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SADD to target more than just drink driving

2 May 2014

SADD to target more than just drink driving

After three decades in New Zealand schools, Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) is stepping up its efforts to improve young driver safety under the new banner of Students Against Dangerous Driving.

“SADD is proud to have been part of a radical culture change on drink driving through the eighties and nineties. Today, our rate of alcohol related fatal crashes per year is 70% lower than when we started in 1985,” says Chief Executive Anna Braidwood.

“But teens still have a road death rate that is nearly double the rest of the population and to change that we need to target other risks as well as impaired driving.”

The change was a key topic of SADD’s annual conference season these school holidays, with 260 students attending from around the country, and students will now be promoting six principles for safety on the roads:

• Sober drivers
• Safe speeds
• No distractions
• Avoiding risk
• Driving to the conditions
• Building experience

“SADD is running in over 72% of all secondary schools and our membership is growing with every term, so we know we have the foundations in place to make a significant impact. We have lost 700 teens in the past decade and it is a tragedy to know that the vast majority of those deaths were preventable. We believe a radical change is required and our students are determined to be at the heart of making it happen,” says Anna.

The changes have been supported by principal funder the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and long time sponsor of SADD, the NZ Automobile Association (AA). The change will be launched by students in their schools in the new term.

“It is inspiring to see our students rising up and calling for positive change in the hopes they will save lives. We hope our communities will get behind them to support their efforts. We are losing far too many young kiwis every year and we simply cannot stand by and hope that things will change for the better.”

SADD’s 6 principles for safe young drivers:

Sober Drivers – Alcohol and Drugs will remain the flagship issue of the programme, while it is a declining issue nationally it is still one of the leading causes of death and serious injury on the roads. Young drivers are more likely to be affected by alcohol/drugs than any other demographic on the road and it remains an important issue at the heart of keeping our young people safe. This is what we do – what we’ve been doing for 30 years, and will remain at the heart of our programme.

Safe Speeds – young drivers are more than two and a half times more likely to have speed as a contributing factor in a fatal crash than drivers over the age of 25. Our student members have recognised speed as the second most worrisome issue effecting young drivers. Like impairment, Safe Speeds is an important message for the whole community, and our organisation has the opportunity to spread the messages beyond the school gates for a wider impact, as we have done with drink driving over the past three decades.

No Distractions – younger drivers have the highest rate of distraction-related fatal and serious crashes. This principle will help young people identify what the distractions are, what impact they can have on driving, and provide solutions to create vehicles as distraction free zones.

Avoiding risk – young drivers underestimate risk, tend to drive in higher risk situations and incorrectly perceive hazards. In terms of the brain, a young person is still developing those parts that assess risk, and control emotions and impulses – this is development that continues into a person’s 20s. There are gender issues here too, with young males showing much higher rates of risk-taking behaviour on the roads, and this sees them significantly over-represented in crashes.

Driving to the conditions - when young people fail to read and/or drive to the conditions they risk losing control of their vehicle and this along with impairment and speed makes up the top three contributing factors for young drivers involved in fatal crashes. Young drivers are not perceiving the hazards and risks they encounter on the roads as being as dangerous. They are not perceiving them as older drivers do, and therefore they are often not adjusting their driving to minimise the impact or effect of these hazards.

Building Experience – There is no greater reducer of crash risk over time than experience. Young drivers have two statistically challenging factors to manage – they are less mature and they lack experience – the combination of the two puts them at much greater risk. For instance we know that a young novice driver has a higher crash risk than an older novice driver – when you combine immaturity with inexperience, you increase the risk of crashing significantly. For us it will be about encouraging our fellow young people to take responsibility for building experience, to take an active role in getting support, advice and guidance, and in being able to put their hand up when they are lacking skills, confidence or knowledge.


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