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Official’s ‘fiddling’ is killing families

Government Transport Official’s ‘fiddling’ is killing our families


The ACC Motor Vehicle Account liabilities for 2009 set a new record high at $6,845,108,000 together with the ACC Motor Vehicle Account annual payout for 2009 a record high of $452,000,000.

The Driver Fatigue Strategy was released in December 2007 – ‘An interagency strategy to combat driver fatigue’ (an initiative of the National Road Safety Committee which comprises of the Chief Executives of the Ministry of Transport, Accident Compensation Corporation , New Zealand Transport Agency, Commissioner of Police, The Secretary of Labour, Secretary for Justice and the Director-General of Health). This strategy quoted the following ‘ Recent international research has estimated that the figure for fatal crashes, where driver fatigue has contributed is more likely to be around 20-24%. This view is consistent with other studies conducted in New Zealand eg; SWATT 2010 (40% driver fatigue & inattention) & Auckland Car Crash Study (19% driver fatigue) (see AKILLA Scoop archived press releases titled ‘Govt Road Safety Policy is killing our families (9th April 2010)’ and ‘Transport Official’s Cover-Up Killing on NZ Roads (19th April 2010)’.

Even on a highly conservative basis (say 19%) one could safely attribute approximately $1,300,570,000 of the ACC Motor Vehicle Account Liabilities to driver fatigue crashes and $85,880,000 MVA annual payout to driver fatigue crashes.

Yet, New Zealand currently has NO national driver fatigue education. NO national television advertising driver fatigue educational campaign and for that matter no co-ordinated driver fatigue campaign whatsoever. Despite the fact that simple educational messages on the warning signs of driver fatigue – including ‘micro-sleeps’ on the road and countermeasures such as ‘Power-napping’, are done in every other civilised country except New Zealand, and have been proven very effective. Victoria (Aust.) has been screening both concentration and driver fatigue educational advertisements on televisions since 1991 and 1993 respectively. According to official statistics the 20-24 year old age group represent the biggest crash category, and they no nothing about the subject of driver fatigue.

The ‘Greatest Enforceable Risk’ (GER) policy (confirmed in a letter from LTNZ dated 26th August 2005) a policy focusing on Speed, Alcohol and Restraints has been in place since 1995. The ‘penny is starting to drop’ that the introduction of GER in 1995 was the ‘biggest blunder’ in New Zealand Road Safety history. GER relied upon the ‘false hypothesis’ that the Greatest Enforceable Risks were the only significant risks and that all of the other road safety risks could then be treated as being negligible. (GER is a ‘blocking policy’ that goes even further by stating that there is to be no advertising for ‘unenforceable risks’).

Infact, this could not be farther from the truth, as it is probable that the ‘unenforceable’ risks of ‘inattention’, ‘ driver fatigue’ and ‘drugged driving’, are a factor in as much as 80% of the crashes. The GER blocking policy explains why there are no ‘driver fatigue’ black-spot signs located at driver fatigue black-spots (eg; Centennial Highway in Wellington).

Naturally, if you prioritise and get the wrong priorities (to the total neglect of other crash causes) - you lose !

Any logical thinking person will realise that the focus should be on the ‘Greatest Real Risks’(GRR) which would include the three of the biggest killers on the road. Namely; Inattention (failed to notice, attention diverted by, did not look or see), driver fatigue and drugged driving. Other civilised countries deal with ALL OF THE ROAD SAFETY ISSUES, and not just three. As they say, if you only learn about half the issues your best score can only be 50% , which explains why New Zealand has twice the fatality rate per 100,000 population than both the United Kingdom and Sweden.

The Death of Driver Fatigue Educational Television Advertising.

The AKILLA Sleep Safety Campaign campaigned to get national driver fatigue television advertising in New Zealand. The campaigning proved successful and in the 2007/2008 year $722,500 was spent in media and production to produce the first driver fatigue educational television advertisement ‘wake up to the warning signs’.

$1,615,000 was spent in 2008/2009 in media and production costs. However, this dropped from $1,615,000 to ‘$0’ in the 2009/2010 year, yet television advertisements relating to Speed, Alcohol and Intersections all increased by $100,000 each.

How did they kill off the Driver Fatigue Television educational campaign to favour the Greatest Enforceable Risks (G.E.R.) ? Read on….

An Advertising Planning Day 2009 was held between NZTA, MoT and NZ Police representatives, to establish the educational television advertising budget.

The following shown in italics is quoted from an OIA 1982 response received 26th March 2010.

[MOT representatives] said that 6-7% of injury crashes and 12% of fatal crashes are related to fatigue…

Yet, they knew that the ‘Driver Fatigue Strategy’ released in December 2007 (an initiative of the National Road Safety Committee) quoted the following ‘ Recent international research has estimated that the figure for fatal crashes, where driver fatigue has contributed is more likely to be around 20-24%. This view is consistent with other studies conducted in New Zealand – SWATT 2010 (40% driver fatigue & inattention) & Auckland Car Crash Study (19%)

[NZ Police representatives] said that the Minister’s priority is on enforceable issues and expressed the view the fatigue campaign is very hard to justify in the current environment.

This statement is factually incorrect. MoT Policy writers advise that at no time did the Minister make such a statement. This is merely an attempt to push the ‘enforcement barrow’ as you may expect from a NZ Police representative. Even on a highly conservative basis of say 19% one could safely attribute $1,300,570,000 of the ACC Motor Vehicle Account Liabilities to driver fatigue crashes and $85,880,000 MVA annual payout to driver fatigue crashes each year. Therefore, it is patently clear that expenditure on such an important road safety issue such as driver fatigue, can be justified.

[NZTA representatives] said that other countries can’t identify whether their fatigue campaigns have been effective or not.

This statement is factually incorrect. The following television advertisements on driver fatigue and inattention have been shown in Victoria (Aust.) by the Transport Accident Corporation (TAC Road Safety), since 1991 , with excellent results. Namely;

Country Kids (concentration) 1991, Morgue (fatigue) 1993, Country People Die on Country Roads (concentration) 1994, Nightshift (fatigue) 1994, Motherless Child (concentration) 1995, Drowning (fatigue) 1996, Powernap (fatigue) 1999, Black (fatigue) 2002, Lost (fatigue) 2004, Big Hit (fatigue) 2007.

Analysis by TAC Road Safety of these driver fatigue and concentration television educational advertisements showed a significant change in driver behaviour. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) reported the following on each of the television advertisements. Namely; Powernap (fatigue) 1999, 25% changed their behaviour, Black (fatigue) 2002, 30% changed their behaviour and Lost (fatigue) 34% changed their driving behaviour !

It is incomprehensible to think it has been suggested that TAC Road Safety (Victoria) would run such television educational advertisements for 19 years without a positive contribution to Victorian road safety !

Furthermore, an attempt to ‘dumb down’ driver fatigue was made suggesting that it was primarily a long distance issue. This is factually incorrect, and both New Zealand crash statistics and overseas studies show that over 90% of driver fatigue crashes are as a result of ‘sleep deprivation’ eg; poor quality sleep, sleep debt build up, lack of sleep or sleep medical disorders etc. Long distances are just one of a number of factors that can bring out underlying sleep deprivation or driver fatigue crashes as a result of physical or mental exhaustion.

Previous examples by NZTA and NZ Police - to ‘dumb down’ driver fatigue as an issue, in favour of the Greatest Enforceable Risks (GER) are as follows;

In 2006, billboard advertisements were placed around New Zealand by LTNZ. There was very little reference to ‘driver fatigue’. As one Ministry of Transport policy writer said ‘these billboards look more like tourism billboards’. Eg; Stop and take a look at Geraldine, she’s a beauty’. Furthermore, the billboard ‘What’s the hurry hurry ? Stop in Harihari’, sounded more like a speeding advertisement. These billboards did not mention drowsy driving or driver fatigue or any educational message that you would typically see on overseas driver fatigue billboards.

Surprisingly, the Clemenger BBDO briefing papers (OIA 1982) for the billboards stated the following;

‘We are not trying to educate them on the dangers of fatigue and consequences – this will be the job for a long term strategic campaign.

Another example, was when LTNZ produced a driver fatigue television advertisement. There was no mention of micro-sleeps, driver fatigue or drowsy driving or driver fatigue countermeasures. No educational instruction was given to what steps a drowsy driver should undertake to avoid becoming a crash victim. As one retired ambulance officer said ‘it could have been a speeding or alcohol advertisement’.

Surprisingly, the Incite- Clemenger BBDO briefing papers for the television advertisements (OIA 1982) had the wording –‘ Please note that we don’t want to use the word fatigue’.

If you examine the 15 crashes that occurred at Easter, resulting in 21 deaths you will observe that most were attributable to inattention and driver fatigue.

The introduction of ‘Roadwar Crime Trials’ has been suggested by some road safety professionals to bring about full Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency (R.A.T.) by Government Transport Officials, to ensure that the alternative agendas are brought to account.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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