Road safety education

Helping motorists to become safer drivers is essential for improving the safety of our roads and reducing the road toll.

Road safety education

It involves:

Did you know?

  • 16,000-18,000 students attend the New Zealand Defensive Driving Course each year.
  • The AA has 60 driver trainers located throughout New Zealand.
  • Alerting people to safety risks
  • Changing dangerous attitudes and behaviour
  • Improving motorists' driving ability

Adverts and publicity about drink driving, speeding and wearing seatbelts are run by organisations such as the New Zealand Transport Agency, ACC and the Police. These campaigns are just one high profile aspect of road safety education in New Zealand.

There are road safety coordinators based at most local councils who work in schools and the community; Police education officers working in schools in partnership with teachers; and driver training courses run by the AA, industry organisations and companies.

Many school and community courses focus on educating young drivers. Some courses target particular sections of the public, for example the Safe with Age courses for older drivers, and initiatives to raise parent awareness about child restraints.

AA's commitment to raising educational standards

AA Driver Education Foundation (AA DEF)

The AA has an independent charitable trust, the AA Driver Education Foundation, to promote safer driver behaviour.

The Foundation promotes educational and practical initiatives that result in the highest standards of positive driver attitudes and safe driving skills. It also governs the education programme, Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD).

AA driver training and defensive driving courses

We offer driving lessons, refresher driver training, and defensive driving courses to drivers of all ages and abilities.

We also provide road safety advice to more than 1.2 million AA Members via a technical advice phone line, advocacy in the media, publications such as AA Directions and this website.

AA speaking up for motorists

Creating a safety culture

Road safety education works best when drivers are treated as responsible, intelligent people rather than as potential law breakers. An effective education strategy involves creating a positive safety culture, rather than playing on the driver's fear of getting caught.

Most motorists welcome useful safety messages that identify risks, and also offer practical tips to avoid the risks.

A better safety culture will emerge when society decides for itself that unsafe driving behaviour is unacceptable. Effective education speeds this process.

More focus on lesser-known safety risks

Road safety advertising campaigns have in recent years been overly focussed and limited to the safety risks that the Police are most geared towards enforcing - drink driving, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt. Often this is referred to as targeting "the greatest enforceable risk," and does not necessarily focus on what motorists can do to make themselves safer.

We'd like to see more TV adverts that confront other major safety risks that drivers are less aware of, for example distracted and drowsy driving, drugged driving, and young driver safety.

Adverts that succeed in changing driver behaviour

High impact and memorable road safety advertising is important, but the real test is whether or not these adverts have successfully changed driver behaviour.

The most effective adverts don't just alert drivers to safety risks - they provide useful tips to avoid a crash.

For example:

"To avoid losing control on corners, brake on the straight - not the corner."

"Take care not to follow too closely. For a safe following distance, use the two-second rule."

Better coordination of road safety education

Road safety education in New Zealand currently lacks coordination, support and funding. However, there has been some increased focus by the government in 2007 which is encouraging.

We'd like to see a government-led national plan that covers each stage of a driver's life, which different education and training providers can link in to.

What AA Members are saying

Driver education for secondary school students

When AA Members were asked whether teenagers in secondary schools should be given road safety education as part of the core education curriculum, 80% of respondents supported or strongly supported the idea in a March 2006 Survey.

DDC contextual

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