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Real crash survivors the faces of new seatbelt campaign


Real crash survivors have become the faces of the NZ Transport Agency’s latest seatbelt campaign.

Every year, around 90 Kiwis die in motor-vehicle crashes around New Zealand where they weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Faced with an audience that doesn’t see the point of wearing them, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) had to shift the perception of seatbelts from an optional accessory to a life-saving necessity.

Kiwi men needed proof that was credible and authentic. There’s no better proof than those who wouldn’t be here without a seatbelt.

The campaign started with a public call-out to find real Kiwi men with their own stories of survival, thanks to a seatbelt. Hundreds responded, and ten were chosen to step in front of the camera to have their real injuries recreated and their stories shared.

Their injuries vary, but all ten are united by the mark of their seatbelt: a short-term physical bruise, or sometimes scar, that has had a long-lasting impact on their lives. A physical reminder that they made the right call to wear a seatbelt and survived because of it.

Photo from belted survivors campaign. Liam Bethell
Survived 08.08.17
Liam was T-boned by a truck 200m from home, he broke most of his ribs, three discs in his back, and had a brain bleed that put him in a coma for 10 days. He woke up the day before his daughter was born. His seatbelt saved his life.

Photo from belted survivors campaign. Rick Haira
Survived 04.11.04
Rick was heading out to his new apprenticeship just outside of Hastings. Driving over the tracks, his ute was clipped by a train. It spun him out of control into a transformer box. His seatbelt kept him from being thrown from the vehicle.

Photo from belted survivors campaign. Dylan Chirnside
Survived 15.08.17
Dylan was T-boned by another vehicle a few KM’s from his house. Along with a brain injury, he broke one of the major bones that connects the head to the spine. His seatbelt saved his life. In a year and a half, he’s made a full recovery.

To ensure their injuries were recreated as accurately as possible, the survivors provided personal photos taken in the days after their crashes to use a reference. The special effects make-up team also worked closely with Dr. Natasha McKay, an Emergency Medicine Specialist who lent her expertise to the campaign. She confirms: “A seatbelt really does leave a mark like this. They will save your life, but they will leave a mark to show how they’ve done it.”

The images are displayed on billboards near carparks of bars and pubs in towns around NZ, in particular, in the areas where the featured survivors live. Content recreating the injuries can also be found across social media, and in cinemas.

NZTA aims to share more real stories of survival. If a seatbelt has helped you survive and you want to share your story, head to link)