Kiwis urged to support rangatahi to reduce road fatalities

15 September 2022

Kiwis urged to support rangatahi to reduce road fatalities

As youth-led road safety awareness month SAFER September takes place, the AA and Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara) are urging Kiwis to check in with young drivers and be vigilant about road safety to prevent the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads in 2022 from climbing further.

Year-to-date (YTD), 248 people have died on our roads, which is 11% more than at the same time last year, and just 6% shy of 2018’s high of 264 deaths (YTD)*. Nearly a quarter of those were aged between 15-24 years old, which is an increase of 35% year-on-year, up 29% and 59% on 2020 and 2019 respectively and just 13% less than the high of 2018.

In response, SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara groups across Aotearoa have signed up to take part in SAFER September (Student Advocates for Everyone's Road Safety).  During the month-long campaign, young leaders are running activities and events in their schools and communities.  SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara National Leaders are stepping up to play their part:

  • Akshara Nair, year 13 student from Albany Senior High School tells us her group aims to create a mural, work with local police around impairment issues and also plan to visit a local primary school.
  • Emma Wilson, a year 13 student from Fiordland College has registered her group to take part.  They plan to raise awareness everyday by sharing facts, hosting weekly quizzes and running frequent activities.  They will also be working with partners in the community to take their messaging beyond their school gates.
  • Dianne Lee, a year 12 student from Kristin School, Albany has shared that her group will run fun activities for the whole school but with a serious message.  They run an interactive assembly where all students will be invited to participate in a question and answer session.
  • Lena Dupu, a year 12 student from St. Kevin’s College, Oamaru also registered her school group, and they will bring students together at a BBQ and run fun activities to raise awareness of impairment and good decision making.

SADD General Manager and former Police officer Donna Govorko says seeing the number of road deaths creep closer to 2018 levels highlights there is still a lot of work to be done to shift the culture and attitudes amongst rangatahi and adults.

“We need to support young people to make safer choices on the road by talking about the risks, speaking up when we see dangerous behaviour and modelling positive actions ourselves.

“Driver behaviour is nearly always the leading cause of these fatalities, and while every young life lost is a tragedy, it’s made even more tragic by the fact these accidents are usually avoidable.

“We talk a lot with our students about choices, because that’s what it comes down to. As the driver in control of a car you need to make safe choices and understand the implications of poor ones.

“These statistics only account for those that have paid the highest price, yet there are other consequences that’ll impact a young person’s life if not permanently for many years to come.

“Serious road injuries can have a lasting impact on their wellbeing both physically and mentally. Then there’s the impact of a driving offence on employment prospects, debt and financial struggles resulting from fines as well as harm to other families and the wider community.

“Our goal, and the aim of SAFER September, is to create the cultural shift we need in order to change behaviour and we encourage Kiwis of all ages to support this.”

Ben Bonne was a National Leader for two years and remains involved whilst at university adds:

“Wake up Aotearoa New Zealand; we've fallen asleep behind the wheel.  Since 2017, our sobering road-related death and serious injury statistics have worsened - a concerning trend that has only been amplified with Covid. 

“These statistics are significant as they affect us all: our family and whanau, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Given our alarming situation, SAFER September, a campaign that starts conversations and encourages us all to be safer road users, is more important than ever.

“Led by the youth of Aotearoa New Zealand, and facilitated by SADD/Kaitiaki O Ara, this campaign responds to our sobering statistics. Yet, SAFER September isn't about pointing fingers at who's responsible. It's about making a societal-wide commitment to be safer road users because the only way things will change is for us to work together.”

According to AA Driving School, a long-time sponsor of SADD, inexperience coupled with over-confidence is what puts young people at greater risk on the road.

“Young drivers tend to overestimate their ability and underestimate the risk as their inexperience means they are less likely to recognise a hazard and perceive the risk,” says General Manager Roger Venn.

“Drink driving, speeding, being distracted and not driving to the conditions are common risk factors amongst young drivers. Our experience shows that the best way to mitigate these is to build their experience safely and make sure they are aware of the risks and consequences so they are better prepared to handle the situations they will face on the road.

“Professional lessons and road safety education are an important part of that but becoming a safe and competent driver goes beyond just technical skills and knowledge. Attitude and willingness to change behaviour is just as important.

“By checking in with how their driving is going and talking about things like how to manage distractions and handle pressure, the safer they’re likely to be.”




*Data source: Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport as at 12 September 2022

SADD/Kaitiaki o Ara is a student-led charity that aims to prevent loss on New Zealand roads. Available free to all schools, SADD empowers youth to create strategies that encourage their peers to adopt safer attitudes and behaviours.


For more information:

Donna Govorko
SADD General Manager
027 451 1251

Victoria Domigan
SADD Operations Manager

Alison Oldridge
Senior Communications Advisor
New Zealand Automobile Association
021  847 828 

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