‘Belt on, phone off’ – Road Safety Week tackles driver distraction
Today marks the first day of Road Safety Week (7-13 May), an annual initiative designed to raise awareness of road safety issues.
QBE Insurance has supported road safety charity Brake, and Road Safety Week, since the charity was first established in New Zealand. From small beginnings in 2012, Road Safety Week has grown into a nationwide event, coordinated by road safety charity Brake and supported by QBE Insurance and NZ Transport Agency.
This year’s theme is ‘Belt on, phone off – make it a habit’, aiming to reduce driver distractions by encouraging drivers to keep their mobile phones off or out of reach.
“Putting on a seat belt is an automatic thing we do when we get into a car, “said QBE New Zealand General Manager Operations, Bill Donovan.
“The purpose of this year’s campaign is to make turning off your mobile part of that routine, so you can eliminate that distraction completely while you’re driving.”
A survey from the Ministry of Transport found that 38% of drivers said they used a mobile phone for sending or receiving text messages while driving, and 22% of drivers admitted to making calls on a hand-held phone while driving1.
“Using a phone at the wheel slows reaction times, in a similar way to drink-driving,” said Mr Donovan.
“Despite what many people think, hands-free calls are just as dangerous – both activities increase your crash risk by four times2.”
Employers encouraged to get on board
One of the key goals for Road Safety Week,– especially those with employees who drive for work, is to get employers involved.
Brake is offering all employers free access to an ‘action pack’ to help promote road safety to their employees and customers. The pack includes downloadable posters, online resources and advice on how to take part in Road Safety Week.
“Employers can play a critical role in helping us achieve safer roads, as many of the people who spend a lot of time on the road are doing it as part of their job,” said New Zealand Development Director – Brake, Caroline Perry.
“That’s why we’re giving employers the tools they need to promote a safe driving culture, with the aim of reducing crashes and promoting sustainable travel.”
Employers are also encouraged to run a ‘Bright Day’, where employees come to work dressed in bright colours to draw attention to the vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists, and help raise funds for Brake’s support services for road crash victims.
Drivers can show their commitment to road safety by taking a pledge at www.brake.org.nz/pledge.
Employers can visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.nz to get a free action pack and go to www.brakepro.org to access Brake’s Professional membership scheme – which offers free or discounted places at Brake events, plus regular guidance briefings, resources, research and news.
2016 Public attitudes to road safety survey, Ministry of Transport
Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study, University of Western Australia, 2005