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Stay involved and keep your teenager safe

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In just five months since the launch of the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) safe teen driver campaign, more than 24,000 'unique visitors' have picked up information from the NZTA's www.safeteendriver.co.nz[http://www.safeteendriver.co.nz] website.

“That figure is equal to around one quarter of all of the parents of 15-16 year old restricted licence holders, and it’s an encouraging result,” said Jennie Gianotti, NZTA Acting Network User Behaviour Manager.

“It shows that parents are recognising the importance of staying involved while their teens are learning to drive.

“But it’s just the start of what we’re hoping to achieve with this campaign.  We’re determined to spread the message to parents to get involved, make the commitment and use the tools available.”

The safe teen driver campaign supports parents by providing practical advice and free tools via a dedicated website - www.safeteendriver.co.nz (external link) - aimed at helping parents to stay actively involved in teens’ driving not only when they’re learning to drive, but also during the period of greatest risk - the first 6-12 months of driving alone.

The campaign acknowledges that learning to drive is not only a practical skill; it also requires guidance from parents to help their teens assess risks and make informed decisions about driving.

The website encourages parents to help their teen identify and manage the highest risks situations they might face when driving by themselves. The site offers parents a set of tools to help them:

  • Think it – a quiz to help your teen identify the risks they might face driving solo
  • Talk it – discussing the risks with your teen, without starting an argument
  • Try it – tips on how to go driving with them when they first encounter the risks
  • The Plan - working with them to decide how to manage those risks safely, before they have to deal with them.

One of the important things parents can do is to help enforce the restricted licence conditions which are there to protect young drivers. For example, restricted drivers aren’t allowed to drive on their own between 10pm and 5am because one of the biggest risks for teen drivers is driving at night - around 40% of crashes involving young drivers (aged 15-24) happen when it’s dark.

“The summer holidays are almost upon us, a time when many young people may have their first experiences driving long distances, with passengers, on busy roads that they might not be familiar with,” says Ms Gianotti.

“It’s not a good time for parents to bail out and hope for the best, because as the research shows, our teenagers are most at risk while they are gaining experience driving on their own.”

Andy Knackstedt
Media Manager
New Zealand Transport Agency
T. 04 894 6285
M. 021 276 3222
E. andrew.knackstedt@nzta.govt.nz

Notes to editors:

  • The Safe Teen Driver campaign, launched in June this year, aims to improve the poor road safety record of teenage drivers in New Zealand.
  • New Zealand has the highest road death rate in the OECD for 15-17 year olds, and the fourth highest road death rate for 18-20 year-olds.
  • Data shows that New Zealand’s teen drivers are most at risk of having a serious crash in the first six to 12 months of driving solo on a restricted licence.  They are more vulnerable on the road during this period than at any other time in their lives.
  • Each year for the past five years there have been around 1,300 crashes resulting in injury or death involving teen drivers on a restricted licence.
  • The key conditions of the restricted licence are:
    • Restricted licence holders must not drive by themselves between 10pm and 5am. If they are going to drive between these times they must have a supervisor in the front passenger seat); and
    • Restricted licence holders must not carry passengers unless they have a supervisor with them (subject to some exceptions for spouses and dependents).
  • When a young driver has two or more passengers in the car with them, they’re ten times more likely to have a crash than if they were driving alone. If those passengers are about the same age as the driver, the risk is more than fifteen times higher than if they were driving alone.
  • 40% of crashes involving young drivers (aged 15-24) happen when it’s dark..
  • Young drivers are disproportionately involved in crashes at night (particularly Friday and Saturday nights).
  • Since the Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS) was introduced in 1987, the number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes has dropped by about 70%.
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