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Launch of Safety Warrior programme + Speech

October 12 Media Statement

Launch of Safety Warrior programme

Transport Minister Mark Gosche today announced a review of New Zealand's child restraint standards.

Speaking at the launch of the Waitakere City Council "Safety Warrior" programme today Mr Gosche said that the review would ensure New Zealand had the best possible restraint standards.

"As well as getting more children buckled in to cars we need to be making sure they are in the right restraints, installed and used correctly. We also need to make it easier for parents to choose the right restraint."

"The review by the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Safety Authority will examine the present standards for child restraints, as well as the way child restraints are secured within vehicles."

“This is important because while 80 per cent of our ‘under-5s’ are now being restrained in cars, a Dunedin study last year found an alarming 65 per cent of child seats are likely to be incorrectly installed or used."

The Safety Warrior programme launched by the Minister today expects to recruit 15,000 school children in West Auckland to promote injury prevention.

“Being a ‘safety warrior’ is about kids thinking smart to keep themselves, and others, injury free. Like remembering to ‘buckle up’ for every car trip, choosing to wear a helmet for every bike rid and considering the safety of younger brothers and sisters,” Mr Gosche said.

“Currently, one child passenger under the age of five is killed on our roads nearly every month in New Zealand – two children a month if children up to the age of 14 are included. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Four hundred children a year are hospitalised as a result of being passengers in cars that crash.”

‘We need to do better at getting the one in five children who are still unrestrained, safely buckled in. And we need to all drive safely - unfortunately factors such as drink driving, excessive speed, failure to give way and inattention all continue to play a role in killing children on our roads.”

The launch of the ‘Safe Warriors’ programme coincides with the launch today of New Zealand’s national child safety week. All around the country this week, car seat checking clinics are being run to help families check their car seats, booster seats and restraints.

“I am pleased that both the Land Transport Safety Authority and road safety coordinators around the country are so actively involved in the Week,” Mr Gosche said.

"This government is committed to road safety. Last year we doubled the funding available for community based initiatives such as ‘Safety Warriors’. Currently we are considering a package of road safety initiatives to significantly reduce our road toll by 2010. Finding ways to improve the safety of our most vulnerable road users, such as children, will be part of this.”

ENDS

Hon Mark Gosche
October 12 2001
Speech Notes

Launch of Waitakere City Safety Warriors programme

Kia ora, Talofa lava, Greetings to you all. I acknowledge in particular Mayor Bob Harvey, Jerry Seuseu, Francis Meli and Henry Fa afali – it’s great to see the Vodafone Warriors getting behind something as important as the safety of our children.

It’s a pleasure to be back in Waitakere again, and in particular to be here to launch the ‘Safety Warrior’ programme.

The aim of this programme is to recruit 15,000 Waitakere children as ‘safety warriors’ - pledged to think about how they can prevent injuries to themselves and other family members.

In putting the focus on thinking smart, ‘Safety Warriors’ and Vodafone Warriors have something important in common. I’m sure that Jerry, Francis and Henry will agree that being a successful Warrior on the playing field is not just about bodily skill and strength – its about using your brain.

Being a ‘safety warrior’ is the same. Its about kids thinking smart to keep themselves, and others, injury free. Like remembering to ‘buckle up’ for every car trip, choosing to wear a helmet for every bike ride and considering the safety of younger brothers and sisters.

Ensuring younger ones are safely buckled into child restraints is a perfect example of where thinking safety is more important than relying on strength alone. Imagine trying to hold back a cannon ball as it is shot from a cannon. That’s what it would be like trying to hold on to a young child in your arms in a 50 kilometres per hour car crash.

Not even a burly Vodafone Warrior could hold on to a child in that situation. The good news is – a car seat can. By thinking ‘make it click’, older brothers and sisters can help keep themselves and their smaller brothers and sisters safe in cars.

That’s if, of course, the car seat is correctly installed, and correctly used. Which brings me to Kidsafe Week.

The launch of the ‘Safe Warriors’ programme here in Waitakere has been timed to coincide with the launch of New Zealand’s national child safety week.

All around the country this week, car seat checking clinics are being run to help families check that their car seats, booster seats and restraints are able to do the job they are designed to do – keep kids safe.

This is important, because while 80 per cent of our ‘under-5s’ are now being restrained in cars, a Dunedin study last year found that an alarming 65 per cent of child seats are likely to be either installed or used incorrectly.

Currently, a child passenger under the age of five dies nearly every month in New Zealand – two children a month if children up to the age of 14 are included. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Four hundred children a year are hospitalised as a result of being passengers in cars that crash.

We need to do better. Better at getting the one in five children who are still unrestrained, safely buckled in. Better at ensuring our children are in the right restraints – installed and used correctly. Better at making it easy for parents to choose the right restraint. In line with this, Safekids approached me with its concerns about the high rates of incorrect use of child restraints, and has asked me to review the child restraint Standards.

As a result I have recently asked the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Safety Authority to review New Zealand’s current child restraint Standards. This review will examine the present standards for child restraints in this country, as well as the way child restraints are secured within the vehicle. Overall, the review will ensure that only the best possible child restraint Standards are available in New Zealand.

Of course we also need to do better at ensuring that our cars are being driven safely - unfortunately factors such as drink driving, excessive speed, failure to give way and inattention all continue to play a role in killing children on our roads.

The ‘Safety Warrior’ programme puts the emphasis on children to keep themselves and others safe. While children can lead the way, the truth is, to keep our kids safe on the roads, we all need to adopt the ‘safety warrior’ spirit.

This includes government . This government is committed to road safety. Last year we doubled the funding available for community based initiatives such as ‘Safety Warriors’. Currently we are considering a major package of road safety initiatives to significantly reduce our road toll by 2010. I can assure you that finding ways to improve the safety of our most vulnerable road users, such as children, will be part of this.

Speech Two

One of the joys of being Minister of Transport is hearing about the creative ways that communities around New Zealand are tackling the important issues – like the safety of our children, both on and off the road.

The ‘Safety Warriors’ programme is an excellent example of such an initiative. So is Kidsafe Week, which begins today.

Kidsafe Week provides a focal point – and a call to action - for families, communities and decision makers to focus on the safety of our most vulnerable citizens.

If this year is anything like past years, during Kidsafe Week over 400 special activities and events are likely to be organised, in more than 90 communities throughout New Zealand. Children’s safety will be a topic of discussion on our radios, in our newspapers, on our TVs, and in our schools.

Road safety can only benefit from this. I am pleased that both the Land Transport Safety Authority and road safety coordinators around the country are so actively involved in the Week.

ENDS

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