This week (7-13 May) is Road Safety Week and the AA is challenging everyone to change one thing they do which will make them safer on our roads.
“Whether you’re a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist there will be something you can change that will make a difference,” says AA General Manager Motoring Affairs Mike Noon.
“Our road safety has been getting worse rather than better in recent years. It’s likely more people will die and be seriously injured on roads this year than last year,” says Mike.
Road Safety Week this year is particularly focussing on risks from distractions and also the dangers of not wearing seatbelts.
“We’re all guilty from time-to-time of getting distracted when we should be focussed on the road,” says Mike.
“Whether you’re driving, cycling or walking, roads aren’t forgiving places if you’re not concentrating on what you’re doing.”
It’s estimated that distractions are a factor in at least 12% of crashes.
“Cellphones are an obvious distraction for drivers and pedestrians. Even hands-free conversations can be a problem. It’s not the same as talking to another passenger because the person on the other end can’t see what else you’re trying to concentrate on.
“We’ve all followed drivers whose speed fluctuates, or they start drifting in their lane, and when you pass them you see they have a phone stuck to their ear. Phone calls take more of your attention than you might realise, meaning you are less focussed on your driving.
“If you’re going to take a call, it must be hands-free and make it short. And absolutely never text while you’re driving – your eyes will be off the road longer than you think.
“Pedestrians also need to be really aware of how vulnerable they are when they’re texting and walking.
“For drivers, changing the radio station, eating, or trying to calm down children in the back seat is just as dangerous. You need to pull over if something in the car demands your attention,” says Mike.
The AA also believes that we could save up to 50 lives a year if everyone wore their seatbelt every time they drive or are a passenger in a vehicle.
Although wearing a seatbelt is a habit for most Kiwis, around 5% don’t.
Last year 100 of the 380 people who died on our roads weren’t wearing a safety belt. The AA recently published research that looked into who these people are and found that it’s not just one group.
“You’re much more likely to die or suffer serious injuries if you’re in a crash and not wearing a safety belt,” says Mike.
“Crashes happen in a split second but can cause a lifetime of pain and loss. It’s not worth underestimating roads risks so always buckle up.”
The AA is commending schools throughout the country who are taking part in Road Safety Week by running activities to promote road safety. In fact a range of activities are happening throughout the month of May to draw attention to road safety issues.
This includes secondary school students who later this month (25-27 May) are running a campaign where they’re seeking sponsorship to go phone free for 48 hours. The initiative has been inspired by students to help raise money for SADD (Students Against Dangerous Driving) programmes and it is being supported by KiwiPlates, the AA and the NZ Transport Agency. It will focus on and highlight the risks of drivers using cellphones.
For more information contact:
General Manager Motoring Affairs
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. 04 931 9984
M. 021 659 704
E. [email protected]