Brake, the road safety charity, is urging drivers to keep road safety front of mind if they're travelling this Waitangi weekend, with a particular focus on drink driving and seat belts.
With Waitangi Day falling on a Thursday, many people will be taking advantage of a long weekend by travelling to take a break or visit family and friends, and the charity is reminding drivers to plan their journeys and prioritise the safety of themselves, their passengers and other road users.
Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads. In 2018 alcohol and/or drugs was a factor in 130 fatal and over 1,000 injury crashes, killing 153 people and injuring over 1,500 . Research shows that drinking any amount of alcohol can affect your driving .
Brake is urging drivers to plan their journeys over Waitangi weekend and to ensure they aren't driving whilst impaired by alcohol or drugs. Brake's Driving for Zero campaign urges drivers not to drink any amount of alcohol or take any drugs before getting behind the wheel. The charity also urges family and friends to speak out and stop a loved one drink or drug driving.
Caroline Perry, Brake’s NZ Director says: "We see the devastating consequences that drink driving has on families when loved ones are killed or seriously injured. Driving requires 100% of your concentration and alcohol is proven to affect your reaction times, judgement and coordination. If you're driving, the only safe amount of alcohol to have is none."
The charity is also reminding everyone to wear a seatbelt when in a vehicle. Wearing a seatbelt is one of the easiest things drivers and passengers can do to reduce their risk of death and injury in a crash.
Using a three-point seat belt reduces the chance of dying or being seriously injured in a crash by 40-50% . Drivers are responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are properly restrained, but they should also be ensuring all their passengers buckle up.
Drivers should also make sure any children are in appropriate child restraints. By law children must be in a child restraint until they are 7 years old, but Brake recommends that children stay in a child seat until they are 148cm tall. Adult seat belts are designed to give protection to people taller than that, so until they reach that height, children need a child seat to ensure they are protected. Using a child restraint appropriate for your child’s height and weight and properly fitted reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 70% compared to an adult seat belt .
Ms Perry says: "Putting on your seat belt is one of the simplest things you can do to reduce your risk of death or serious injury in the event of a crash, so it's essential you ensure you and your passengers are wearing them on every trip. We want everyone to get to their destination safely this weekend, so plan your travel, make sure you and your vehicle are secure, take regular breaks, don't drive impaired, and do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe on the roads."
Road Safety Week 2020 takes place 4-10 May and the theme is Step Up for Safe Streets, calling on everyone to play their part in making our streets safer. To find out more and sign up to take part in the week, go to www.roadsafetyweek.org.nz.
 Alcohol and drug crashes, Ministry of Transport, 2018, https://www.transport.govt.nz/mot-resources/new-road-safety-resources/alcohol-and-drugs/ (accessed 5 Feb. 20)
 The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011
 The handbook of road safety measures, Elvik R, Vaa T eds, Elsevier, 2004
 The Handbook of Road Safety Measures, 2009, p. 613