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2004 survey of public attitudes to road safety

2 November 2004

2004 survey of public attitudes to road safety released

What do New Zealanders really think about drink-driving, speeding, police enforcement and the state of their roads? The answers, including regional results, are in the 2004 survey of public attitudes to road safety, released today by the Land Transport Safety Authority.

The 2004 survey is the latest in a series that began in 1974 and have been conducted annually since 1994. 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. This year 1,640 people were interviewed, 1,440 of whom held drivers' licences. The survey is carried out by trained National Research Bureau interviewers, and each interviewer's work is checked and audited by NRB supervisors.

As in years past, the 2004 survey showed strong support for police enforcement, with 90% of respondents saying police effort into catching people breaking road safety laws should remain at current levels (50%) or be increased (40%). Just eight percent said there should be less police enforcement.

Speed and alcohol are widely acknowledged as major road safety problems. The once commonly-held attitude that speeding and drink-driving are not risky if the driver is careful has steadily lost currency since the introduction of the Police/LTSA road safety enforcement and advertising campaign in 1995. In 1995, 24% said there wasn't much chance of a crash when speeding if the driver was careful, and 13% thought the same was true for drink-driving. In 2004 the proportion holding that view has fallen to 15% for speeding and 7% for drink-driving.

Attitude survey two of two

The 2004 survey also confirms the continued support of the silent majority of New Zealanders for the enforcement of speed limits. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed agreed that enforcing the speed limit helps to lower the road toll. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they believe speed cameras are operated fairly, and 56% said they would support the use of hidden cameras, compared with 28% opposed and 16% neutral.

The 2004 public attitudes survey also shows a very high level of support for road safety advertising and publicity, with 92% saying it should be increased or remain at current levels, and just seven percent saying it should be decreased.

The survey also questions drivers about their perception of the design and standard of the roads they drive on. In the 2004 survey just 10% of New Zealanders described the design and standard of the roads they normally use as 'very safe', while 72% think their usual roads are 'fairly safe' and 18% described them as unsafe.

Other survey results show that 76% of New Zealanders agree that compulsory breath testing helps to lower the road toll and 90% agree that automatic loss of licence is a fair penalty for driving 150km/h on the open road. Twenty percent of drivers admitted they had driven while 'slightly intoxicated' during the past 12 months, 19% had received a speeding ticket, 96% said they always wore a seatbelt when driving on the open road and 92% always buckled up when driving in town.

Public attitudes surveys are one of several measures (including crash data and surveys of road user behaviour) used in the evidence-based evaluation of road safety programmes in New Zealand. Full details of the survey can be found on the LTSA website at http:// http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/publications/public-attitudes/2004.html

ENDS

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