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Over Half Of Drivers Distracted, And 21% Have Driven Under The Influence, New Research Shows

Insurer AMI is cautioning drivers to be safe on the roads, as new research reveals that 55% of drivers admit to being distracted while driving*, and 21% said they’d driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol^.

The national survey also showed that mobile phones were responsible for distracting 30% of drivers in the past year, and 68% considered them the biggest distraction to contend with while driving.

AMI Executive General Manager Claims, Wayne Tippet says, “These results are an important reminder of driver safety as many of us get ready to hit the road for a long weekend. We hope that by sharing this information, drivers will remember that little distractions can have terrible consequences, so please be safe.”

Driver distraction is highest in younger drivers, with respondents aged between 18-24 listing mobile phones, passengers, adjusting GPS/audio/climate controls, daydreaming, and eating/drinking as the biggest distractions.

Meanwhile, 25% of those aged over 45 admitted they had driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, compared to 17% of those aged between 18 and 44.

Before leaving home, AMI urges New Zealanders to make a plan.

“Set up your navigation system, choose your music playlist, and set your temperature controls before you leave, or have your front-seat passenger do this for you,” suggests Mr Tippet.

“If you’re driving solo, put your phone on silent, or message people that you’re about to head off and won’t be available for the duration of your journey. Remember that hands free phones are also distracting. Make sure your insurance is up to date and that you’re signed up for AMI’s Roadside Rescue service in case of any emergencies.

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“We hope that by highlighting this issue people will be more aware of the common distractions and arrive safely at their destinations.”

Free AMI Driver Reviver event in Kawatiri

For those travelling around Nelson Tasman, the AMI team will be holding an AMI Driver Reviver event at the Kawatiri Junction Rest Area along SH6 on Friday 26 April. Anyone passing through between 1pm and 4pm is encouraged to stop in for a break and have a free coffee and snack from the BBQ trailer.


What drivers have been distracted by in the past 12 months (top 10):

Passengers in my vehicle - 52%

Other drivers - 46%

Adjusting audio or climate controls - 43%

Using the GPS - 34%

Eating and drinking - 33%

Daydreaming - 33%

Pedestrians - 26%

Texting - 22%

Talking on the phone - 19%

Smoking / vaping - 6%

Top 5 rated distractions:

Texting - 49%

Talking on the phone - 19%

Other drivers - 9%

Other passengers in the vehicle - 7%

Daydreaming - 6%

AMI’s advice to help keep yourself safe on a road trip:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before setting off. Getting eight hours’ sleep will mean you’re refreshed and in tip-top shape.
  • Keep your phone out of sight. Advise key contacts before you leave that you’ll be unavailable while driving.
  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip ahead:
  • Get the car serviced
  • Check your tyres are pumped with the correct air pressure
  • Refuel
  • Top up your engine oil and coolant to optimal levels
  • Check all breaks and lights are working properly and the car battery’s connection is secure
  • Have AMI Roadside Rescue details handy
  • Have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including a spare tyre, jack, tyre lever, pump and any other tools that will come in handy in case of a break down, including a basic first aid kit.
  • Pack essential supplies such as food, water, tissues and in-car chargers.
  • Store luggage safely.
  • Restrain children and pets correctly.
  • Choose the best travel route.
  • Take regular breaks – if you’re travelling for more than two hours, take regular breaks to stretch your legs and reset your mind.
  • Check weather conditions before setting off and plan accordingly, even delaying your plans if the forecast is for storms.

*Ipsos research commissioned by AMI, March 2024. Nationally representative survey of New Zealanders, total base size of n=1,000, and a margin of error of ±3.00. Respondents were asked about driving distractions encountered within the past 12 months.

^We asked, ‘Have you ever driven while under the influence of drugs and alcohol?’ Responses could potentially include prescription medication.

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