LTSA offers warning and advice to 4WD owners
LTSA’s Director of Land Transport Safety, Reg Barrett, said today that many drivers of 4WD recreational vehicles think they are safer than other road users.
“The reality is that they are safer in some situations but less safe in others. Drivers need to be aware of the particular handling characteristics of their four-wheel-drive vehicle and need to adjust their driving habits accordingly.”
Mr Barrett said international studies have found four-wheel-drive vehicles to be over-represented in road crashes.
“While heavier four-wheel-drives can offer more protection in multiple-vehicle crashes involving lighter vehicles, they are more likely than other cars to be involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash. Occupants of four-wheel-drive vehicles involved in these types of crashes do not fare well.
“In New Zealand an analysis of crash data between 1995 and 1997 showed that only six percent of all car crashes involved the vehicle rolling over, but 15 percent of 4WD crashes involved the vehicle rolling over.
“With each additional passenger the chance of a 4WD vehicle rolling over increases. Most four-wheel-drive vehicles do not protect their occupants as well as cars do in rollover crashes. For this reason safety belt use is crucial."
Four-wheel-drive vehicles also pose more of a risk to other road users – including pedestrians, Mr Barrett said.
“This doesn’t mean the vehicles themselves are dangerous when they are used appropriately. It means that drivers need to be careful and appreciate the particular handling characteristics of their four-wheel drive.”
Mr Barrett said this issue is of particular concern because of the increasing numbers of 4WD recreational vehicles on New Zealand roads. In 1996, 8.3 percent (14,581 vehicles) of all first-time registered vehicles were 4WD recreational vehicles. In 1999 the figure had climbed to 12.0 percent (22,744 registrations).
The brochure outlines the safety issues associated with 4WD recreational vehicles and advises drivers to: corner more slowly than they would in a car; increase following distances; always wear a safety belt; and, be mindful of other road users.
The brochure will be made available to motor vehicle dealers through regional branches of the Motor Vehicle Dealers’ Institute, and the information is also available in the vehicle safety section of the LTSA’s website: www.ltsa.govt.nz.