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Tamihere Speech: SADD Ambassadors saving lives

John Tamihere Speech: SADD Ambassadors saving lives

Address at ceremony for appointment of SADD (Students Against Driving Drunk) ambassadors, The Beehive, 3.30pm

Thank you all for attending this ceremony today, and I congratulate the Students Against Drink Driving ambassadors on their appointment.

The figures show how important the work of SADD and its ambassadors is - it could be as important as the difference between life and death for the more than 20,000 young New Zealanders their message reaches each year.

The Alcohol Advisory Council survey, the Youth Drinking Monitor, in 2002, shows that most young people drink alcohol, and SADD isn't about stopping people drinking.

The survey found 93 per cent of 14-17-year-olds have tried alcohol and 82 per cent defined themselves as current drinkers.

Twenty-nine per cent said they drank alcohol at least once a week, while 34 per cent were defined as "risky drinkers" - those who drank five or more glasses on their last drinking occasion - and 49 per cent reported risky drinking in the last three months.

Of these young drinkers, 18 per cent said they had driven after drinking too much, or had been a passenger in a car driven by a drink driver.

According to the Land Transport Safety Authority, alcohol contributed to 26 per cent of all fatal crashes and 14 per cent of all injury crashes in 2000, with the social cost estimated at $570 million. Most at risk of drink driving crashes were young males. LTSA figures show males aged 16-30 represent half of all drink drivers in crashes, though they make up just 15 per cent of all drivers. Of fatal crashes attributed to drivers aged 15-24 in 2000-2001, alcohol was a factor in one-third.

Yet only 27 per cent of young people surveyed said drink driving was a worry for teens. Their parents seemed more concerned: 94 per cent of parents said they were concerned or very concerned about teens drink driving, and 80 per cent said they always agreed on transport arrangements for their children to and from an event before they went out.

So the work of SADD in reducing harm among students by promoting alternatives to drink driving through positive peer influences is crucial in getting the drink driving message through to young people.

As anyone who has ever tried telling teenagers anything will know, if they hear it from their own peer group, they are far more likely to take the message on board.

SADD is run by young people in their own schools, making it THEIR message for THEIR friends, said by THEM. That's why young people are much more likely to listen. That's why it's so powerful.

Again, congratulations to the SADD ambassadors here today and I wish you good luck in continuing the excellent work being done by SADD.

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