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Distracted drivers crash – new focus for campaign

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New billboards targeting distracted drivers have gone up along 200km of State Highway 1 in the South Waikato and Taupo districts.

New billboards targeting distracted drivers have gone up along 200km of State Highway 1 in the South Waikato and Taupo districts.

The new black and fluoro green billboards are part of an education campaign that includes brochures, posters, workplace messages and competitions – all highlighting the risk that driver distractions play in road crashes.

This is the latest phase in the SWATT 2010 road safety campaign on SH1 – a multi-media, multi-agency campaign to reduce road deaths and injuries on SH1 between Piarere (the SH 29 turnoff to Tauranga) and the Desert Road summit. Contributors to this campaign include the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), the NZ Police, ACC, Environment Waikato, Taupo District Council and South Waikato District Council.

Research shows driver distraction was a factor in 11% of all New Zealand crashes on all roads in 2007 – 41 deaths, 224 serious injuries and 1668 minor injuries.

Taupo Road Policing Manager, Senior Sergeant Murray Hamilton, said local Police had witnessed men driving and shaving, women drivers putting on their makeup, and others reading documents draped over their steering wheel.

“Inattention is one of our biggest contributing factors in crashes. That includes distractions and simply not paying attention to the road ahead. If inattention is combined with another factor such as fatigue or speed, it is a recipe for disaster,” Mr Hamilton said.

NZTA Regional Director Harry Wilson said the project was focusing this year on two key crash factors on this section of SH1 – fatigue and inattention.

“Inattention – or what most of us would call ‘driving on automatic pilot’ – is a difficult problem to address in an education campaign. So we have focused on the more tangible part of the inattention problem – driver distraction.

“Drivers need to be careful they are not distracted by passengers or children in their car, or distracted by phones, MP3 players, CD players, takeout food, cigarettes, hot coffee, maps, GPS navigation systems and even TVs and DVD players. We only need to be distracted for a second and we can find our wheels in the gravel or over the centreline. On this highway, that can be a fatal mistake.”

For more information please contact:

Julie Hannam
Regional Communications Advisor
NZ Transport Agency
T   64 07 958 7238
M   64 027 294 2649  
julie.hannam@nzta.govt.nz

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