1 Introduction

The New Zealand survey of Public Attitudes to Road Safety has been undertaken periodically since 1974 and annually since 1994 to evaluate attitudes to road safety issues, primarily alcohol-impaired driving and speed. From 1994 to 2004 the survey was conducted for the then Land Transport Safety Authority. Since 2005 it has been conducted for the Ministry of Transport.

The survey is focussed on alcohol, speed and safety belts. In addition, respondents are asked their views on more general road safety issues.

This report presents the results of the survey under the following headings:

  • general attitudes to road safety and enforcement
  • alcohol-impaired driving
  • drink driving enforcement
  • speed and speed enforcement
  • speed cameras
  • general enforcement and compliance
  • safety belts and child restraints
  • roading
  • fatigue and distraction.

2 Method

The fieldwork for the survey is carried out by an independent survey company, Research International. Surveys are carried out in May and June of each year by trained interviewers who conduct face-to-face interviews in respondents’ homes.

The sample is chosen to be representative of the New Zealand adult population and includes men and women aged 15 and over from towns, cities and rural areas throughout New Zealand. In 2011, 1671 people were interviewed, 1513 of whom held drivers’ licences. Further details of the sample and methodology may be found in Appendix A.

Overview

2.1 Speed and alcohol are widely acknowledged as major road safety problems. The majority of New Zealanders recognise that drink-driving and speeding increase the chance of an accident. One in ten people thought that the risk of an accident when drink-driving was small, and one in five thought that the risk of an accident when speeding was small, as long as you are careful.

2.2 Enforcement. Public support for alcohol, speed and seatbelt enforcement continues to be high. 93% of New Zealand adults said they would like police efforts to enforce road safety laws increased (41%) or maintained at the current level (52%).

2.3 Three-quarters of New Zealanders said that compulsory breath testing (CBT) (74%) and speed enforcement (78%) help to lower the road toll. Support for seatbelt enforcement was even higher, with 84% agreeing that seatbelt enforcement helps lower the road toll.

2.4 Trends. Over the last two years, there has been an improvement in public perceptions of the risk of being caught drink-driving or failing to wear a seatbelt (see Figure below). There has been little improvement in public perceptions of the risk of being caught speeding since 2006.

2.5 Individual measures that have shown significant change are discussed in the relevant sections of this report.

The risk of being caught ... is small
Graph showing public attitudes towards the risk of being caught not wearing a seatbelt, drink-driving and speeding.

3 General attitudes to road safety and enforcement

3.1 Overall, the vast majority of New Zealanders were supportive of road safety enforcement, penalties and advertising measures aimed at reducing the road toll.

3.2 How safe is road travel in New Zealand? Nine percent of New Zealanders described road travel in this country as ‘very safe’. A further 70% described it as ‘fairly safe’; 18% described it as ‘fairly unsafe’ and 3% as ‘very unsafe’1. Overall, 79% described the roads as ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’ (no statistically significant change from 80% in 2010).

3.3 Road safety enforcement. Overall, public support for Police enforcement remains high. Forty-one percent of New Zealanders said that Police effort to catch people breaking road safety laws should be increased further. A further 52% wanted that effort maintained at current levels. Only five percent thought Police effort should be decreased. These results are similar to those of recent years.

3.4 Penalties. In 2011, 41% of New Zealanders said that penalties for breaking road safety laws should be increased. 49% thought penalties should remain about the same as they are now, and only four percent were in favour of reducing the severity of penalties. These results are similar to those in recent years.

3.5 Advertising. 38% of New Zealand adults thought that there should be more publicity and advertising about road safety, and 56% thought the amount of publicity and advertising should remain about the same as at present. Only 5% wanted to see a reduction in publicity and advertising about road safety. These results are similar to those of the last five years.

3.6 Road design and standards. 16% of New Zealanders described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very safe’. A further 69% thought that their usual roads were ‘fairly safe’. 15% described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very unsafe’ or ‘fairly unsafe’. There has been little change in this perception over the last decade.

3.7 Gisborne residents were most likely to describe the design and standards of their roads as unsafe. 29% of Gisborne residents described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ unsafe.

4 Alcohol-impaired driving

4.1 Figure 1 and Figure 2 show some key attitudinal measures related to drink-driving.

Figure 1: Attitudes to alcohol (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)
Figure 1: Attitudes to alcohol (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)
Figure 2: Attitudes to alcohol (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)
Figure 2: Attitudes to alcohol (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

4.2 Risk of crash. Most people recognise that drink-driving is risky. However, 10% of New Zealanders said that ‘there is not much chance of an accident when driving after drinking if you are careful’ (see Figure 2 above). This is an increase from 6% in 2010 and 2009, and is the highest result since 2000. It remains to be seen if this is the beginning of a decline in road safety attitudes to drink-driving or whether the indicator returns to a lower level, as it did after the previous high point in 2000.

4.3 People in Northland, Gisborne and Canterbury were least likely to recognise the risk of drink-driving. 18% of Northlanders, 16% of Gisborne residents and 15% of Canterbury residents said that there was not much chance of an accident when driving after drinking if you are careful.

4.4 Blood alcohol limit. Sixty-two percent of New Zealanders favoured a lower legal blood-alcohol limit for driving. This increased significantly from 40% in 2006 to 63% in 2010. There was no statistically significant change between 2010 and 2011 (see Figure 1).

4.5 In 2011, 45% of New Zealanders thought the limit should be lowered from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml. A further 17% wanted it lowered to zero. 31% thought the limit should be left as it is. Only 3% were in favour of raising the legal limit. (The remaining 4% said they had no opinion on the subject).

4.6 People who admitted having driven while slightly intoxicated were less likely to favour lowering the limit, but even among this group, 46% were in favour of a lower alcohol limit.

4.7 How many drinks should be allowed before driving? To further explore perceptions about the blood alcohol limit a new question was introduced in 2009. Respondents were asked how many standard drinks someone of the same gender as them should be allowed to have in an hour if they were planning to drive immediately afterwards.

4.8 The concept of a ‘standard drink’ was explained as one can of beer or one small glass of wine and supported by a photograph showing a 330ml can of beer, a small glass of wine and a 30ml serve of spirits.

4.9 Figure 3 shows the results. In 2011, 93% of women thought a woman should be allowed two or fewer drinks in the hour before driving, and 74% thought at most one drink should be allowed. 92% of men thought a man should be allowed three or fewer drinks, and 80% thought a man should be allowed two or fewer drinks. For most people these levels of drinking (one drink in an hour for a woman, two for a man) will result in a blood alcohol level slightly less than 50 mg/100ml. Reaching the current limit of 80mg/100ml requires about 3.5 drinks in the first hour for a man, and 2.5 drinks for a woman2.

4.9 Figure 3 shows the results. In 2011, 93% of women thought a woman should be allowed two or fewer drinks in the hour before driving, and 74% thought at most one drink should be allowed. 92% of men thought a man should be allowed three or fewer drinks, and 80% thought a man should be allowed two or fewer drinks. For most people these levels of drinking (one drink in an hour for a woman, two for a man) will result in a blood alcohol level slightly less than 50 mg/100ml. Reaching the current limit of 80mg/100ml requires about 3.5 drinks in the first hour for a man, and 2.5 drinks for a woman2.

4.10 Overall, the large majority, 87%, thought drivers should be limited to two or fewer drinks during the hour. A further 6% wanted the ceiling set at 3 drinks.

4.11 Between 2010 and 2011 there was a decrease in the proportion of both men and women who thought two or more drinks would be acceptable (from 25% to 21% of women and from 60% to 53% of men).

4.12 More than half (59%) said that drivers should be limited to one drink (or no drinks at all) in an hour. 5% said they didn’t know. Only 2% thought drivers should be permitted more than 3 drinks in an hour before driving.

4.13 Even among people who admitted to having driven while slightly intoxicated, 82% thought the limit should be set at 2 or fewer drinks, and 93% thought the limit should be set at 3 or fewer drinks. This is higher than the proportion of people who said they thought the blood alcohol limit should be reduced (paragraph 4.4), which suggests that many people are unaware of the amount of alcohol that can be consumed within the legal limit3.

 

Figure 3: Drinking before driving

How many standard drinks should a man/a woman* be allowed to have in an hour if planning to drive immediately afterwards?

Figure 3: Drinking before driving

*Men were asked about men and women were asked about women.

4.14 Social influences. Peer pressure and social drinking remain strong influences. More than a third (36%) said that it was hard to keep track of what they drank on social occasions, and a similar proportion (38%) said it was difficult to ‘go easy’ when drinking with friends (Figure 2). These results have shown little change over the last ten years.

 

4.15 Peer pressure was felt most strongly among the young. Fifty percent of young people aged 15 to 24 said it was difficult to go easy and drink less than the group and 45% said it was difficult to keep track of what they were drinking on social occasions.

4.16 Self-reported driving while ‘slightly intoxicated’. The percentage of people who said they had driven while slightly intoxicated during the 12 months before the survey has remained fairly static for a number of years (see Figure 2). In 2011, 21% of drivers (26% of male drivers) said they had driven while slightly intoxicated during the last year. (‘Slightly intoxicated’ was as self-reported by the driver).

4.17 Effectiveness of law. Fifty-four percent of New Zealanders said that our drink-driving laws were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ effective at reducing the road toll. This is similar to last year, but has decreased since the mid 2000s, when it varied between 60% and 66% (Figure 1).

4.18 Forty percent said that the drink-driving laws were not very effective. Only 3% thought that New Zealand’s drink-driving laws had no effect on the road toll. (2% said they didn’t know).

4.19 Penalties. More than half of all those surveyed (54%) agreed with the statement ‘penalties for drinking and driving are not very severe even if you are caught’. This may reflect either an informed view that penalties are not severe or a lack of awareness of the severity of current drink-driving penalties.

4.20 People aged 40 and over were most likely to think penalties were not very severe (58%) compared to less than half (45%) of those aged 15-24.

5 Drink-driving enforcement

5.1 Figure 4 and Figure 5 show key attitudes towards drink-driving enforcement measures, including compulsory breath testing (CBT). A number of key measures have remained static over the last year or have shown a small decline in safety perceptions. Future surveys will show whether this is the start of a continuing trend or a one-off annual change.

Figure 4: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 4: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 5: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 5: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

5.2 CBT lowers road toll. About three quarters (74%) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement that ‘compulsory breath testing (CBT) helps to lower the road toll’. 13% disagreed with this statement. The remaining 13% said they were neutral or didn’t know. This is a return to the 2009 level after a small increase in 2010. This measure has shown little net change over the last decade (see Figure 4).

5.3 Drink-driving enforcement. One third (34%) of New Zealanders said that the risk of being caught drink-driving was small (see Figure 5). 42% of the people aged 60 and over thought the chance of being caught drink driving was small. This measure has shown improvement over the last year and is the lowest it has been since 2005.

5.4 Checkpoints. Over the last two years, fewer people than in previous years have said that they ‘seldom saw checkpoints except during blitzes’ (see Figure 5). In 2011, 58% said they seldom saw checkpoints.

5.5 Fifty-two percent of drivers reported having been stopped at an alcohol checkpoint at least once during the preceding 12 months. Of people who admitted to driving while slightly intoxicated, 61% had been stopped at a checkpoint at least once in the last year.

5.6 Fourteen percent of all drivers reported that they had been stopped at a checkpoint three or more times in the last year. 20% of young males had been stopped at least three times in the last year.

5.7 People living in Otago were more likely than other region residents to say that they seldom saw a checkpoint (74%). People living in Gisborne were more likely than others to say that checkpoints could be avoided if you saw them early enough (36%).

5.8 Avoiding checkpoints. Two fifths of New Zealanders (42%) said that they could tell where checkpoints would be. 73% of Northland residents thought they knew where checkpoints would be.

5.9 A quarter of New Zealanders (25%) said they could often avoid checkpoints if they saw them early enough (Figure 5), and just under a quarter (24%) said they used the back streets to drive home when they might be over the limit. One third (34%) of Hawkes Bay residents said they used the back streets to drive home when they might be over the limit.

5.10 Compulsory screening. Sixteen percent of New Zealanders thought that some people stopped at checkpoints were not tested even when they were over the limit (Figure 5). 30% of those aged between 15 and 24 thought that some people weren’t tested, compared to 12% of those aged 25 and over.

5.11 Chance of being stopped late at night. More than half (56%) of New Zealanders thought there was a good chance of being stopped at a checkpoint if driving late at night (see Figure 4). 26% said they disagreed that there was a good chance of being stopped. (The remaining 18% said they were neutral or didn’t know). People living on the West Coast were least likely to think they would be stopped at a checkpoint if driving late at night - only a fifth (19%) of Coasters said there was a good chance of being stopped.

5.12 Chance of being stopped, by driving situation. More than half of New Zealanders (58%) would expect to be stopped and tested if they were drink-driving in a large city. A further 24% rated the chance as 50-50.

5.13 Forty percent thought there was a high chance of being stopped and tested if they were drink-driving on a major highway. 34% thought they would be stopped if they were drink-driving in a small town. One in five (19%) New Zealanders said they would expect to be stopped if they were drink-driving on a rural road. This is a significant increase from 14% in 2010.

5.14 Chance of being stopped, by time of day. Drivers perceive they are most likely to be stopped and breath-tested during the evening and early morning. 51% of New Zealanders said they would expect to be stopped and breath-tested if they were drink-driving between 10pm and midnight. 42% would expect to be caught if they were drink-driving between midnight and 2am. These have both dropped since 2010, from 57% and 47% respectively (see Figure 4). 38% said they would expect to be stopped if they drank and drove between 6pm and 10pm.

5.15 Fewer people thought they would be caught if drinking and driving between 2am and 8am (28%), or during the day, though both have increased over the last decade. Only 16% said that there would be a good chance of being caught if they were drink-driving in the daytime (8am – 6pm).

6 Speed and speed enforcement

6.1 As the results in this chapter shows, the majority of New Zealanders recognise the risks of speeding and support enforcement of the speed limit. Figure 6 and Figure 7 show trends in key speed-related measures.

Figure 6: Attitudes to speed enforcement (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 6: Attitudes to speed enforcement (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 7: Attitudes to speed and speed enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 7: Attitudes to speed and speed enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

(note that the scale differs from the previous graph)

6.2 Risk of crash. Nearly one in five New Zealanders (19%) agreed with the statement ‘there is not much chance of an accident when speeding if you are careful’. Ideally no-one would agree with this statement, as it indicates a lack of understanding of the role of speed in road safety. This measure has increased from 16% in 2010 and has returned to the 2000 level after fluctuating in the 15% to 18% range between 2002 and 2010 (see Figure 7).

6.3 Young males aged 15 to 24 were most likely to think speeding wasn’t dangerous as long as they were careful (28%). Failing to acknowledge the risk was also more common among Auckland residents (23%), among people who thought the risk of being caught speeding was small (28%) and among people who had received a speeding ticket in the previous 12 months (28%).

6.4 Driving fast. More than a third (35%) of drivers said that they enjoyed driving fast on the open road. This has fluctuated in the mid to late thirties for the last decade (see Figure 7).

6.5 Overall, 40% of males and 30% of females said they liked driving fast on the open road. Young drivers were more likely to say they liked driving fast than older ones: 49% of drivers aged 15 to 24 said they liked it, compared to 36% of those aged 25 to 39, 32% of those in their forties and fifties, and 26% of those aged 60 and over.

6.6 More than half (54%) of male drivers aged 15-24 said that they liked driving fast. People who admitted driving while intoxicated were also more likely than others to say they liked driving fast (45% compared to 32% of other drivers).

6.7 Effectiveness of enforcement. Support for speed enforcement remains high. Three quarters (78%) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement ‘enforcing the speed limit helps to lower the road toll’; 12% disagreed and 9% said they were neutral on this issue. This has changed little since 1995 (Figure 6). This measure was similar across both genders and all age groups.

6.8 Risk of being caught. Awareness of speed enforcement increased markedly between 2000 and 2004, but has been static in recent years. 30% of New Zealanders agreed with the statement ‘the risk of being caught speeding is small’, effectively the same percentage as in the previous five years (Figure 7). People aged 60 and over were most likely to think that the risk of being caught speeding is small (37% agreed with the statement).

6.9 Speed limits. As in recent years, the great majority of New Zealanders (86%) said that speed limits on the roads they normally use are about right. 5% said they were too high and 7% that they were too low.

6.10 Open road speed limit. When people were asked directly whether the 100 km/h speed limit should be raised, lowered or kept as it is, 80% said they wanted it kept as it is and 4% thought it should be lowered. The minority saying that the “100 km/h limit should be raised” has decreased over the last fifteen years, from 25 percent in 1995 to 15 percent in 2011.

6.11 People who had received speeding tickets were most likely to say the speed limit should be raised. More than a quarter (28%) of people who’d received a speeding ticket thought the 100km/h limit should be raised.

6.12 Urban speed limit. Support for retaining the current 50 km/h speed limit was similarly strong. 83% of New Zealanders said that the urban 50km/h speed limit should be retained and a further 6% that it should be lowered. Since these questions were first asked in 1995, there has been a gradual decline in support for raising the urban speed limit, from 21% in 1995 to 9% in 2011.

6.13 Speed limits around schools. A new question was introduced in 2011, asking respondents what they thought the speed limit around schools in urban areas should be. (Options were not given; the actual answer was recorded). Figure 8 shows the results. Half thought the speed limit around urban schools should be 30 km/h or less. 16% said 20 km/h or less, 34% said between 21 and 30 km/h, 42% gave answers between 31 and 40 km/h and 8% said 40-50 km/h. Less than half a percent said the limit around schools should be more than 50 km/h.

Figure 8: Speed limits around schools should be...

Figure 8: Speed limits around schools should be 20 kph or less; 21-30 kph, 31-40 kph, 41-50 kph, or up to and over 50 kph

6.14 Definition of speeding. Participants were asked ‘On the open road, what speed do you consider to be speeding?’. 29% named speeds of 105 km/h or less and 59% named speeds of 110 km/h or less as ‘speeding’. A further 10% named speeds of 111 - 115 km/h. This may reflect the perceived 10 km/h enforcement tolerance.

6.15 Automatic licence suspension for speeding. As in earlier years, most New Zealanders found extremely high speeds unacceptable. The threshold for automatic licence suspension is 40 km/h over the posted permanent speed limit4, or 140 km/h on the open road. In 2011, automatic loss of licence at 140 km/h was described as ‘fair’ or ‘very fair’ by 78% of New Zealanders. This has gradually increased from 68% in 1999 to 78% in 2007 and has been stable since. Only 9% said automatic loss of licence at 140 km/h would be unfair (the remainder were neutral or said they didn’t know).

6.16 More than half (57%) said automatic licence loss would be fair at 130 km/h on the open road.

6.17 The question asked how fair or unfair it would be for a driver to ‘automatically lose their licence’. The actual penalty is licence suspension for 28 days. It is possible that the ‘loss of licence’ referred to in the question sounds harsher than a 28-day suspension, so the responses may in fact underestimate public support for this penalty.

6.18 Speeding in urban areas was also regarded as highly unacceptable. In 2011, as in 2010, 94% supported loss of licence for speeding at 90 km/h in a 50km/h zone. This has gradually increased from 88% in 1999. Almost four fifths (79%) supported automatic loss of licence at 80 km/h, and 52% were in favour of automatic licence loss at 70 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.

6.19 Repeat offending. Sixty-seven percent said that it would be fair or very fair for three speeding tickets in a year to result in automatic loss of licence. This is similar to the levels of the last few years (see Figure 6). 18% said automatic licence loss for three tickets in a year would be unfair or very unfair, and 15% were neutral on this issue or said they didn’t know.

6.20 Self-reported speeding infringements. Fourteen percent of drivers reported receiving at least one speeding ticket in the previous year. Seventeen percent of male drivers and 11% of female drivers reported receiving a speeding ticket in the year preceding the survey. Not surprisingly, drivers who said they liked driving fast were more likely to have had a speeding ticket (18%) than those who disliked driving fast (10%). 19% of people who said they had driven while intoxicated had received a speeding ticket, compared to 13% of people who didn’t report any drink-driving.

6.21 Chance of receiving a ticket. New Zealanders expect to be caught if they speed past a speed camera (see section 7, ‘Speed cameras’), but are less convinced that they’ll be stopped if they’re passing a Police officer without a camera.

6.22 Although more than two thirds (69%) of New Zealanders now believe they would be likely to receive a ticket if they drove past a Police officer in light traffic at 120 km/h, fewer than half (45%) would expect a ticket at 115 km/h (Figure 9). In contrast, three-quarters (76%) said they would be likely to get a ticket if they drove past a speed camera at 115 km/h (see Figure 11).

Figure 9: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a Police officer (without a camera) at various speeds

Figure 9: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a Police officer (without a camera) at various speeds

Figure 10: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if driving at 115 km/h past a ...

Figure 10: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if driving at 115 km/h past a speed camera or police officer without a camera

6.23 Around a quarter (23%) said there was a low or very low chance of receiving a ticket if they drove past a Police officer at 115 km/h.

6.24 More New Zealanders than in earlier years now think they are likely to receive a ticket if passing a Police officer at speeds of 110 km/h or 115 km/h (Figure 9). In 2011, nearly a quarter (24%) said there was a high or very high chance of receiving a ticket if they drove past a Police officer at 110 km/h, up from 16% in 2010 and 10% a decade ago.

7 Speed cameras

Figure 11: Attitudes to speed cameras (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 11: Attitudes to speed cameras (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

7.1 Effectiveness of speed cameras. The majority of New Zealand adults (61%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘Using speed cameras helps lower the road toll’. 24% said speed cameras don’t help to lower the road toll and 14% were neutral on this issue. This has shown little net change over the last decade (Figure 11).

7.2 Cameras operated fairly. Nearly two thirds of New Zealanders (64%) thought that the way speed cameras are being operated is fair.

7.3 Chance of receiving a ticket. Three out of four New Zealanders (76%) said they would expect to get a ticket if they passed a speed camera on the open road at 115 km/h (see Figure 12).

Figure 12: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a speed camera at various speeds

Figure 12: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing speed camera at various speeds

7.4 Eighty-nine percent thought they would be likely or very likely to receive a ticket if they drove past a camera at speeds of 120 km/h or higher, compared to only 69% who thought they’d receive a ticket if they drove past a police officer without a camera at 120 km/h.

7.5 Forty-five percent would expect to receive a ticket if they passed a speed camera at 110 km/h. This has increased from 40% in 2010.

7.6 Awareness of cameras. More than a third (37%) of New Zealanders said that they often saw speed cameras on their usual roads (see Figure 11). This has been fairly static over the last decade. Those least likely to say they often saw speed cameras were people living in Southland (7%), West Coast (19%), and Taranaki (12%).

8 General enforcement and compliance

8.1 General traffic enforcement. Thirty-eight percent of New Zealanders thought that a driver who broke a traffic law (other than drink-driving or speeding) was likely to be stopped by the Police. This has increased fairly steadily over the past 15 years (Figure 13). There was no statistically significant change between 2010 (40%) and 2011.

Figure 13: Perceived chance of being stopped by Police if breaking a traffic law other than drink-driving or speeding

Figure 13: Perceived chance of being stopped by Police if breaking a traffic law other than drink-driving or speeding

8.2 Unmarked police vehicles for traffic enforcement. Several questions about the use of unmarked vehicles (other than speed camera vehicles), to detect offending on the roads, were asked for the first time in 2004. Some questions were altered in 2007.

8.3 In 2011, 95% of New Zealanders were aware that Police use a fleet of unmarked vehicles to detect traffic offending. Awareness was high across all age groups and throughout NZ.

8.4 Most people thought that unmarked cars were an effective and fair road safety measure. Almost three quarters (74%) of those who were aware of unmarked cars said the use of unmarked cars to detect traffic offending was ‘very effective’ or ‘quite effective’ in helping to reduce the road toll. 20% thought the use of unmarked cars was not very effective and only 3% said they had no effect. (The remaining 3% said they didn’t know).

8.5 When asked how fair or unfair it would be for a driver to have his or her traffic offending detected by an unmarked police car, 84% of those who were aware of the use of unmarked cars said that this would be ‘fair’ or ‘very fair’. Only 6% said it would be ‘unfair’ or ‘very unfair’. The remaining 9% said they were neutral on this issue.

9 Safety belts and child restraints

9.1 Figures 14 and 15 show key perceptions relating to safety belts and safety belt enforcement.

Figure 14: Attitudes to safety belts (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 14: Attitudes to safety belts (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 15: Attitudes to safety belts (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Figure 15: Attitudes to safety belts (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

9.2 Effectiveness of safety belt enforcement. 84% of New Zealanders agreed that enforcing the use of safety belts helps to lower the road toll. Younger people were somewhat less likely to support safety belt enforcement, with only 69% of people aged 15-24 saying that safety belt enforcement helps to lower the road toll.

9.3 Enforcement of adult safety belt use. 40% of New Zealanders thought it ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ that they would be caught if they drove without wearing a safety belt. This has remained stable at 36-41% since 2004 after a significant improvement from earlier years (see Figure 14).

9.4 If travelling as a front-seat passenger without a safety belt, 39% would expect to be stopped by Police. For rear seat passengers, 21% said it was likely or very likely that they would be stopped if they travelled unbelted in the rear seat. This is a significant increase from 17% in 2010 (Figure 16).

Figure 16: Chance that an adult will be caught if not wearing a seatbelt while...

Figure 16: Chance that an adult will be caught if not wearing a seatbelt while driving, front seat passenger, or back seat passenger

9.5 Child restraint enforcement. The general perception is that child restraint use is more rigorously enforced than adult safety belt use. Fifty-three percent said there was a high chance of being stopped if travelling with an unrestrained child in the front seat, but only 35% said this would be the case if the child was in the back seat (Figure 17). Although the perception of front seat enforcement has dropped from the high result of 2010 (60%), the 2011 results are the same as in 2008 and higher than in any other previous year.

Figure 17: Chance of being stopped if travelling with an unrestrained child in the…

Chance of being stopped if travelling with an unrestrained child in the front seat or back seat

9.6 Child restraint use by under 5s. People with children were asked how their children were restrained on the last occasion that they rode with them in the car. Nine out of ten people with a child under five said that their child was in a child restraint (including infant and booster seats). 8% said the child was in a seatbelt and the remaining 2% said their child was unrestrained.

9.7 People living in metropolitan areas were more likely than those in other cities, towns and rural areas to say their child was in a seatbelt only or unrestrained (16% of metropolitan area residents compared to 2% of people in other places).

9.8 Restraint use by children aged 5 to 9. Parents (or other household members) whose youngest child was aged between 5 and 9, were asked ‘Last time you drove with this child in the car, was the child in a child seat, booster seat, seatbelt or none of these?’. Half (50%) said the child was in a seatbelt. One third (33%) reported that their child was in a booster seat or child harness, and 14% said their child was in a child seat. Only 2% said that the child was unrestrained.

9.9 Penalties. Just over a third of New Zealanders (37%) said that the penalties for not wearing a safety belt were not very severe even if you were caught (Figure 15).

10 Fatigue and distraction

10.1 Fatigue. Each year from 2007 to 2010, respondents were asked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with the statement ‘Driving when you are tired increases the chance you might have an accident’. In 2010, almost everyone (98%) agreed with the statement. 58% ‘strongly agreed’ and 40% ‘agreed’. Only 1% disagreed with the statement or were neutral on the issue.

10.2 In 2011 this question was replaced with a more detailed question about experience of driving when tired. ’In the last 12 months, have you had trouble staying awake while driving… …to or from work/ …In the course of work/ …On holiday or long trips, for example a family funeral or tangi’. (Funerals and tangi were given as examples as these may require unplanned long trips to a deadline).

10.3 Twenty-four percent indicated they had trouble staying awake while driving on holiday or long trips (‘often’, ‘occasionally’ or ‘once or twice’). The corresponding figures for to/from work and in the course of work were 11% and 8% respectively. Figure 18 shows the details.

Figure 18: In the last 12 months, have you had trouble staying awake while driving…

Figure 18: In the last 12 months, have you had trouble staying awake while driving on holiday, in the course of work, or to or from work

10.4 Thirty-nine percent of Otago residents and 35% of those in the Manawatu-Wanganui region said they had had trouble staying awake on a long trip at least once or twice in the previous 12 months.

10.5 Distraction. An open ended question ‘What things do you find distracting when you are driving?’ was introduced in 2011. The top three distractions identified were children (mentioned by 29% of drivers), other road users (24%) and people outside the car (24%).

10.6 The in-car distractions most commonly mentioned (other than children) were radios/ stereos/ mp3 players (19%) and passengers in general (18%).

11 Roading

11.1 Importance of roading improvements. Respondents were asked how important improving road engineering and design is for road safety. 66% said that improving road engineering and design would be ‘very important’ for road safety, and a further 27% said it would be ‘fairly important’. Overall, 94% rated roading improvements as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important for road safety.

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Public attitudes to road safety survey 2011 summary report, including tables and sampling information (PDF, 652 kb)


 

1 Answers to this and other questions may not add to 100% due to rounding and in some cases because a small number of people answered 'Don't know'

2 Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's Bureau of Alcohol Education, based on formula developed by National Highway Traffic Administration 1994. (Note that 1 US standard drink is approximately 1.4 NZ standard drinks). View the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website (external link) (accessed 28/7/10).

3Safer Journeys, page 32

4 Since 16 January 2006; previously 50 km/h over the speed limit.