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Keep your distance!

Joint Media Release - Auckland Regional Transport Authority and RoadSafe Auckland

4 May 2005

Keep your distance!

A hard-hitting campaign aimed at stopping motorway drivers from hitting each other was launched in Auckland today.

The region-wide "Keep your distance" campaign reminds motorists that they must obey mandatory following distances, as required by law.

Organised by RoadSafe Auckland, "Keep your distance" is being launched at a time of year when motorway crashes traditionally peak.

"Driving on Auckland's busy motorways is a known challenge, and crashes disturb traffic flows and add to congestion," says Auckland Regional Transport Authority Board Member Ted van Arkel.

"It is surprising to learn that nearly half of all crashes on Auckland motorways are nose-to-tail crashes. This campaign takes this simple fact and encourages motorists to keep their distance," he says.

The law requires drivers be able to stop short of the vehicle in front, if it happens to stop suddenly. Mandatory minimum following distances, for example 32 metres when travelling at 80 km/h, must be obeyed.

Transit New Zealand Director of Strategy and Traffic Terry Brown, says that rear-end crashes are often caused by following too close, driver inattention, and loss of control - especially during wet weather.

Mr Brown says that by following some simple tips, it is easy to avoid a nose-to-tail crash.

"It is important to scan 2-3 vehicles ahead, watch your following distance, and also be aware of what is happening beside and behind you. Always be prepared for vehicles in front to slow down or stop without warning," he says.

Mr Brown also adds that there are typically more crashes on Auckland motorways on Fridays and that motorists should never let concentration wane.

"Keep your distance" builds on Transit New Zealand's Merge Like a Zip campaign and is part of an ongoing initiative to encourage better lane discipline by motorway drivers. Merging like a zip, letting indicating drivers in, indicating before changing lanes and keeping your distance all help to avoid crashes and keep the motorways flowing.

The campaign message is being displayed on 25 billboard sites at key motorway on-ramps and distributed to the community and businesses on pamphlets and car bumper stickers.

ENDS

Motorway safety facts:

Generally there are few fatal and serious crashes on the motorway network, but a large number of minor injury or non-injury crashes. All crashes create some disturbance to traffic flows and congestion.

Crashes peak on Fridays (19.4% of all crashes) and May (9.4% of all crashes)

Nose-to-tail (or rear-end) crashes account for approximately 45% of Auckland motorway crashes. Following too closely and inattention were the two most common contributing factors associated with this type of collision. These factors, mixed with the high levels of congestion that occur on Auckland motorways have resulted in almost 6,000 rear-end crashes being recorded in the past five years. Non-injury crashes made up 83 percent of these crashes. The injury crashes resulted in three deaths, 55 serious injuries and 1,210 minor injuries. When looking at the age and gender of the drivers at fault in those crashes involving injury there are a couple of clear peaks (20 to 24 and 35 to 39 year old males).

Nose-to-tail crashes are also associated with loss of control type crashes, particularly in wet weather.

The biggest concentrations of nose-to-tail crashes occurred in the areas of Gillies Avenue, Khyber Pass, Green Lane, Newton Road and Penrose Road.

This initiative is primarily funded by Land Transport New Zealand.

RoadSafe Auckland is a region wide road safety group made up of representatives from Auckland's seven local councils, Auckland Regional Council, Auckland Regional Transport Authority, Land Transport New Zealand, NZ Police, Transit New Zealand, ACC, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Safekids, Alcohol Advisory Council and the Ministry of Health.

www.roadsafeauckland.org.nz

ENDS

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