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Road Safety Messages Slowly Getting Through

Survey Shows Road Safety Messages Slowly Getting Through

New Zealanders are gradually letting go of their misconceptions about risky driving behaviour, according to the latest Land Transport Safety Authority survey of public attitudes to road safety.

Changes in attitudes since the introduction of targeted police enforcement and high-profile advertising campaigns in 1995 include a higher perceived risk of being caught drink-driving, greater recognition of speed as a road safety risk and higher reported use of safety belts.

The long-held belief by some that speed isn't dangerous is steadily losing currency. Eighteen percent of those responding to the 2001 survey thought they were unlikely to crash when speeding if they were careful, down from 24 percent in 1995.

Recognition of the risks associated with drink-driving has also increased, with just seven percent of respondents to the 2001 survey believing a drink-driving crash was unlikely if they were careful, down from 13 percent in 1995.

But in spite of the gradual improvements, Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright said the survey shows that the speeding culture remains strong in New Zealand, and too many people are still willing to get behind the wheel after drinking.

"There are some puzzling contradictions - over 75 percent of people agree that speed enforcement and compulsory breath-testing help to reduce the road toll, yet almost 40 percent say they enjoy driving fast on the open road and 25 percent admit they've driven while intoxicated. We need to close the gap between people's attitudes and their behaviour behind the wheel."

The 2001 survey also found an increase in reported safety belt use over previous years. Only six percent of those surveyed said they often or always drove without a safety belt on short trips, down from 10 percent in 1998 and 17 percent in 1995. Only one percent said they seldom wore a safety belt on the open road, down from 10 percent in 1995.

The survey revealed broad support for the LTSA's road safety advertising – 51 percent want it maintained at current levels while 43 percent think the amount of advertising should be increased - only five percent thought there should be less road safety advertising.

The 2001 survey of public attitudes to road safety is the latest in a series that began in 1974. Surveys have been conducted annually since 1994. The surveys evaluate New Zealanders' attitudes to road safety issues, primarily drink-driving and speed.

Face-to-face interviews with respondents representative of the New Zealand population aged 15 and over are conducted in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the country in May and June of each year. In 2001, interviews were conducted with 1,645 people, 1,428 of whom held drivers' licences.

Full details of the survey can be found on the LTSA website: www.ltsa.govt.nz

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