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Students celebrate the introduction of zero tolerance

4 August 2011

SADD WEEK 2011 - Students celebrate the introduction of zero tolerance

Many young people will welcome the change to a zero-alcohol limit for drivers under 20, believes Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) Chief Executive Anna Reid.

‘Be a Zero Hero’ will be the theme of the annual SADD Awareness Week beginning on Monday, in celebration of the law change to zero tolerance for young drivers that comes into effect on Sunday, August 7.

Miss Reid says the change is a great step forward in reducing the harm caused on our roads by young drivers – a group overrepresented in all key statistics relating to drink driving.

“In New Zealand, 15-19 year old drivers at the former legal limit were 15 times more likely to die in a road crash than a sober driver aged 30 or over. “Teenagers are inexperienced drivers, so with the old legal limit, we were adding risk to risk,” says Miss Reid.

“For 25 years SADD students have been educating young people to realise that even one drink is one too many. It is wonderful to know that the law will finally match up to our key messages.

“Changes to the law are long overdue and our students will be pleased now to have the opportunity to further push out the sober driving message to young drivers and to educate their peers on what the law change means for them.”

The law change will clear up a lot of confusion, says Miss Reid, and SADD believes many young drivers will welcome the new clear message.

“Our members have long been telling us the difficulties they have with addressing the legal limit for young drivers. Their peers were confused by what the [former] legal limit represented in terms of drinks and this has often led to misjudgement and poor decisions A zero limit will clear this up for young drivers and keep them, their passengers and other road users much safer in the process.”

SADD Awareness Week will see SADD students running activities and campaigns in schools and communities throughout New Zealand to promote healthier, safer behaviour and attitudes and to raise awareness of the drink driving issue for the whole community. The theme ‘Be a Zero Hero’ was developed by the 230 students who attended the 2011 SADD Conference Season.

The week is the pinnacle of a year’s worth of work and activity for SADD members. The theme for this week was especially close to the heart of the SADD team and student leadership, following years of advocating for a zero BAC for young drivers.

“SADD week holds two aims for our members. The first is to raise awareness on the dangers and consequences of drink driving, and the second is to educate their peers on the law changes, and show them that this is a great step forward. We believe the zero tolerance law will make a difference, but significant change will need to come from youth themselves – and we are still working towards that culture change that might one day see drink driving eradicated,” says Miss Reid.

Young people in New Zealand are overrepresented in all key statistics in regards to alcohol related harm and alcohol related crashes are high on the list of causing death or serious injury for youth.

“As a nation of drivers we can do much better. The loss of life and cost of drink driving is just too high. We hope adults will join our students in pushing for positive change again this year.”

SADD’s support of the zero-alcohol limit is echoed by the New Zealand Automobile Association.

“The previous system could lead to confusion and it’s much easier for young people to know you can’t drink anything before driving – end of story,” says AA Motoring Affairs General Manager Mike Noon.

ENDS

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