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NZ Road Safety Innovation Awards announced


Winners of New Zealand Road Safety Innovation Awards announced


A world first after-market emergency brake lighting system and an education programme run by a Tongan church are the joint overall winners in this year’s New Zealand Road Safety Innovation Awards.

Auckland company Databrake International is a joint Premier Award winner for its 'intelligent brake lighting system' - a computer operated electronic device which monitors a vehicle's deceleration. When critical braking thresholds are met the device automatically switches on the vehicle's hazard warning lights - alerting other road users to the potential danger. The hazard lights flash faster and more intensely as the level of braking increases.

The device is little bigger than a matchbox, can be easily retrofitted to almost any vehicle in about 20 minutes and the cost is similar to that of a car alarm. It was designed to help prevent nose-to-tail crashes, of which there are more than 1,400 resulting in injury or death each year. It is estimated that over $30 million is spent on vehicle repairs and much more on health care costs as a result of nose to tail accidents last year. More than 80 vehicles a day are damaged in nose to tail accidents.

While similar emergency brake lighting systems are available on a small number of luxury vehicles, this is the first time such a system has been marketed as an after-market device. The intelligent brake lighting system also receives this year's award for Vehicle-Based Road Safety Innovation.

Auckland's Tongan Methodist Church is the other joint winner of the overall Premier Award, for the development of Safe in His Hands, a programme promoting road safety awareness among its congregation and in the wider community. The programme, which includes child-restraint workshops and driver licensing courses, also won the Community Road Safety category.

Several church members were part of the inter-agency group which planned the programme, also including Waitakere City Council Road Safety Co-ordinators, the local ACC Injury Prevention Co-ordinator, representatives from Plunket, NZ Police and Waitakere Education Association.

Statistics show that Pacific children are more likely than other children to be injured as vehicle passengers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of accidental death for Pacific people in Waitakere, accounting for just over 40 percent of injury-related deaths.

The Road Safety Innovation Awards are being presented at a ceremony tonight hosted at Parliament by Transport Safety Minister Hon Harry Duynhoven. The prize-giving is the culmination of the second national awards programme for breakthroughs in New Zealand road safety.

The winners of two other award categories will also be announced tonight.

The 'Road Safety in Organisations' Award goes to Auckland based infrastructure company Excell Corporation for a multi-faceted driver safety programme resulting in a sharp fall in at-fault motor vehicle accidents by company employees.

Excell has implemented a range of safety measures since 1999 to reduce its employees' at-fault accident rate. The result of the programme has been a drop in the at-fault accident rate from 72 percent to 49 percent, with a goal of 20 percent by 2006. The estimated costs to the company of vehicle and property damage has reduced from $336,000 in 2001/02 to $182,000 in 2003/04.

The measures put in place by Excel include road safety programmes, driver licence checking, the implementation of a safe driving policy and an alcohol and drug free workplaces programme.

The Road Safety Education Award goes to Tricky Tracks, a programme undertaken by a group of eight and nine-year-old students from Edendale School near Invercargill to make the area around the railway tracks close to the school safer.

The programme was undertaken by Ella Hall, Jorja Lawson, Thomas Lewis, Damian McKenzie and Laura McVicar with help from teacher Heather Robertson.

The children identified why the double railway tracks were potentially dangerous and how to minimise the dangers. Their solutions included cutting back shrubbery to improve visibility, stopping vehicles from parking over the footpath, painting warnings on the footpath and educating the children at the school using posters, bookmarks and a board game.

The children approached local organisations such as Gore Police, Southland District Council, Edendale Community Board, Toll Rail and Fonterra to get assistance to get the job done.

Background information on the Awards

The Road Safety Innovation Awards recognise outstanding achievements in the following categories: Community Road Safety School Road Safety Corporate Road Safety Vehicle-Based Innovation and Improvement

Inspired by the Prince Michael Road Safety Awards in the United Kingdom, the New Zealand awards highlight examples of road safety innovation in this country with the aim of encouraging others to follow suit. To be eligible for the awards, innovations must have originated within New Zealand or have been significantly adapted for New Zealand conditions. All entries in this year's Road Safety Innovation Awards were evaluated by a three member expert judging panel lead by Dr Carolyn Coggan, Director of the Safe Communities Foundation New Zealand and former Director of the Injury Prevention Research Centre at Auckland University. The awards programme is funded by the Road Safety Trust and administered by Land Transport New Zealand. The awards organising committee includes representatives from the New Zealand Automobile Association, the AA Driver Education Foundation, New Zealand Police, ACC and Land Transport New Zealand.

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