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, TNS New Zealand. 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 2013, 1670 people were interviewed, 1526 of whom held drivers’ licences. Further details of the sample and methodology may be found in Appendix A.

3 Overview

3.1 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 six thought that the risk of an accident when speeding was small, as long as you are careful.

3.2 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 (40%) or maintained at the current level (53%).

3.3 Three-quarters of New Zealanders said that compulsory breath testing (CBT) (77%) and speed enforcement (76%) help to lower the road toll. Support for seatbelt enforcement was even higher, with 89% agreeing that seatbelt enforcement helps lower the road toll.

3.4 Trends: Over the last year, there has been no significant change in public perceptions of the risk of being caught drink-driving, speeding or failing to wear a seatbelt (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1: The risk of being caught... is small Graph showing the percieved risk of being caught

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

3.6 New Questions: In 2013, new questions were asked about:

    • alcohol interlocks (see 6.15 for details). When asked how fair or unfair it would be for alcohol offenders to be required to pay for and use an alcohol interlock in order to drive, 89% said it was fair. 
    • roadside speed indicator devices (see 7.25). When asked about the effectiveness of roadside speed indicator devices at slowing the respondents down, 86% said they were very or quite effective. 
    • cell phone use (see 11.9). When asked about the likelihood of getting caught using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving, 27% said it was fairly or very likely, while 47% said it was fairly or very unlikely. 
    • restraint use by children aged 5 to 6 and 7 to 9 years (see 10.6 – 10.8 for details). For children aged 5 to 6 years, 81% were restrained in a child restraint or booster seat compared to 27% for children aged 7-9 years.

4 General attitudes to road safety and enforcement

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

4.2 How safe is road travel in New Zealand? Ten percent of New Zealanders described road travel in this country as ‘very safe’. A further 70% described it as ‘fairly safe’; 17% described it as ‘fairly unsafe’ and 3% as ‘very unsafe’[1].  Overall, 81% described the roads as ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’, slightly up from 79% in 2012. 

4.3 Road safety enforcement. Overall, public support for Police enforcement remains high. Forty percent of New Zealanders said that Police effort to catch people breaking road safety laws should be increased further. A further 53% wanted that effort maintained at current levels. Only six percent thought Police effort should be decreased. These results are similar to those of recent years.

4.4 Penalties. In 2013, 39% of New Zealanders said that penalties for breaking road safety laws should be increased. 51% thought penalties should remain about the same as they are now, and only five percent were in favour of reducing the severity of penalties. These results are similar to those in recent years.

4.5 Advertising. 47% of New Zealand adults thought that there should be more publicity and advertising about road safety. This is a significant increase over the results from last year (40%).  49% thought the amount of publicity and advertising should remain about the same as at present. Only 3% wanted to see a reduction in publicity and advertising about road safety.

4.6 Road design and standards. 13% of New Zealanders described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very safe’. A further 71% thought that their usual roads were ‘fairly safe’. 16% 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 recent years.

4.7 Northland, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and West Coast residents were most likely to describe the design and standards of their roads as unsafe. 25% of Northland residents, 26% of Bay of Plenty residents, 32% of Gisborne residents, and 26% of West Coast residents described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ unsafe.

5 Alcohol-impaired driving

5.1 Figure 2 and Figure 3 show some key attitudinal measures related to drink-driving.

Figure 2: Attitudes to alcohol (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)Graph showing attitudes to alcohol

Figure 3: Attitudes to alcohol (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)Graph showing attitudes to alcohol

5.2 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 3 above). This is a return to the high of 10% in 2011.

5.3 People in Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury were least likely to recognise the risk of drink-driving. 14% of Aucklanders, 11% of Waikato residents and 11% of Canterbury residents said that there was not much chance of an accident when driving after drinking if you are careful.

5.4 Blood alcohol limit.  Sixty 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 have been no statistically significant changes since 2010 (see Figure 2).

5.5 In 2013, 43% of New Zealanders thought the limit should be lowered from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml. A further 18% wanted it lowered to zero. 31% thought the limit should be left as it is. Only 2% were in favour of raising the legal limit. (The remaining 5% said they had no opinion on the subject).

5.6 People who admitted having driven while slightly intoxicated were less likely to favour lowering the limit, but even among this group, 44% were in favour of a lower alcohol limit.

5.7 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.

5.8 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.

5.9 Figure 4 shows the results for the last three years. In 2013, 94% of women thought a woman should be allowed two or fewer drinks in the hour before driving, and 75% thought at most one drink should be allowed. 91% of men thought a man should be allowed three or fewer drinks, and 81% 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 woman[2].

5.10 Overall, the large majority, 88%, thought drivers should be limited to two or fewer drinks during the hour. A further 6% wanted the ceiling set at 3 drinks.

5.11 Nearly two-thirds (65%) said that drivers should be limited to one drink (or no drinks at all) in an hour. 4% said they didn’t know. Only 3% thought drivers should be permitted more than 3 drinks in an hour before driving.

5.12 Even among people who admitted to having driven while slightly intoxicated, 80% thought the limit should be set at 2 or fewer drinks, and 92% 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 limit[3].

Figure 4: Drinking before driving

Graph showing standard drinks before driving

5.13 Social influences. Peer pressure and social drinking remain strong influences. More than a third (34%) said that it was hard to keep track of what they drank on social occasions, and a similar proportion (35%) said it was difficult to ‘go easy’ when drinking with friends (Figure 3). These results have shown little change over the last ten years.

5.14 Peer pressure was felt most strongly among the young. Forty-four percent of young people aged 15 to 24 said it was difficult to go easy and drink less than the group and 47% said it was difficult to keep track of what they were drinking on social occasions.

5.15 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 3). In 2013, 19% of drivers (25% of male drivers) said they had driven while slightly intoxicated during the last year. (‘Slightly intoxicated’ was as self-reported by the driver).

5.16 Effectiveness of law. Fifty-five percent of New Zealanders said that our drink-driving laws were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ effective at reducing the road toll. This is a decrease from last year’s figure of 59% (Figure 2).

5.17 Thirty-nine 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. (3% said they didn’t know).

5.18 Penalties. More than half of all those surveyed (52%) 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.

5.19 People aged 30 and over were most likely to think penalties were not very severe (55%) compared to less than half (41%) of those aged 15-24.

6 Drink-driving enforcement

6.1 Figure 5 and Figure 6 show key attitudes towards drink-driving enforcement measures, including compulsory breath testing (CBT). A number of key measures have shown a small decline in safety perceptions.

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

Graph showing attitudes to drink-driving enforcement

Figure 6: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Graph showing attitudes to drink-driving enforcement

6.2 CBT lowers road toll. Over three quarters (77%) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement that ‘compulsory breath testing (CBT) helps to lower the road toll’. 10% disagreed with this statement. The remaining 13% said they were neutral or didn’t know. This is about the same as the 2012 level (78% agreed). This measure has shown little net change over the last decade (see Figure 5).

6.3 Drink-driving enforcement. Just over one third (34%) of New Zealanders said that the risk of being caught drink-driving was small (see Figure 6). 42% of the people aged 60 and over thought the chance of being caught drink driving was small.

6.4 Checkpoints. Over the last four years, fewer people than in the previous 5 years have said that they ‘seldom saw checkpoints except during blitzes’ (see Figure 6). In 2013, 56% said they seldom saw checkpoints. People living in Otago were more likely than other region residents to say that they seldom saw a checkpoint (69%).

6.5 Fifty-five 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, 65% had been stopped at a checkpoint at least once in the last year.

6.6 Sixteen percent of all drivers reported that they had been stopped at a checkpoint three or more times in the last year. 37% of young males aged 15-24 had been stopped at least three times in the last year.

6.7 Avoiding checkpoints. Two fifths of New Zealanders (39%) said that they could tell where checkpoints would be. 59% of Bay of Plenty and Gisborne residents, and 53% of Northland residents thought they knew where checkpoints would be.

6.8 Just under a quarter of New Zealanders (23%) said they could often avoid checkpoints if they saw them early enough (Figure 6), and just under a quarter (22%) said they used the back streets to drive home when they might be over the limit. People living in Gisborne were more likely than others to say that checkpoints could be avoided if you saw them early enough (44%) and that they used the back streets to drive home when they might be over the limit (40%).

6.9  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 6). 27% of those aged between 15 and 29 thought that some people weren’t tested, compared to 12% of those aged 30 and over.

6.10 Chance of being stopped late at night. More than half (53%) of New Zealanders thought there was a good chance of being stopped at a checkpoint if driving late at night. 26% said they disagreed that there was a good chance of being stopped. The remaining 21% said they were neutral or didn’t know.

6.11 Chance of being stopped, by driving situation.  Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders (63%) would expect to be stopped and tested if they were drink-driving in a large city, a significant increase from 53% in 2012. A further 22% rated the chance as 50-50.

6.12 Forty-two percent thought there was a high chance of being stopped and tested if they were drink-driving on a major highway. This is also a significant increase over the 37% in 2012. 33% thought they would be stopped if they were drink-driving in a small town. Sixteen percent of New Zealanders said they would expect to be stopped if they were drink-driving on a rural road

6.13 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. 49% of New Zealanders said they would expect to be stopped and breath-tested if they were drink-driving between 10pm and midnight. 40% would expect to be caught if they were drink-driving between midnight and 2am (see Figure 5). 37% said they would expect to be stopped if they drank and drove between 6pm and 10pm. The 10pm to midnight decrease from 55% in 2012 to 49% in 2013 is statistically significant.

6.14 Fewer people thought they would be caught if drinking and driving between 2am and 8am (28%), or during the day (15%).

6.15 A new question was asked in 2013 about measures to stop people from repeatedly drink driving. An alcohol interlock is a device that prevents the vehicle being started if the driver blows a breath alcohol sample above the legal alcohol limit.  These will be fitted to the vehicles of people caught repeatedly drink-driving, and of people who are caught driving at two or more times the legal limit.  They will still be disqualified from driving for three months.  After that they will need an interlock in order to drive.  The user will have to pay for his or her own interlock. The question asked how fair or unfair it would be for one of these drivers to be required to pay for and use an alcohol interlock in order to drive. 89% said it was fair, 5% said it was unfair.

7 Speed and speed enforcement

7.1 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 7 and Figure 8 show trends in key speed-related measures.

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

Graph showing attitudes to speed enforcementFigure 8: Attitudes to speed and speed enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

(note that the scale differs from the previous graph)

Graph showing attitudes to speed and speed enforcement

7.2 Risk of crash. Seventeen percent of New Zealanders 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 been fluctuating in the 15% to 19% range in recent years (see Figure 8).

7.3 Young males aged 15 to 24 were most likely to think speeding wasn’t dangerous as long as they were careful (25%). Failing to acknowledge the risk was also more common among West Coast (23%), Auckland (22%) and Gisborne (21%) residents.

7.4  Driving fast. Two-fifths (40%) 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 8).

7.5 Overall, 45% of males and 34% 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: 53% of drivers aged 15 to 24 said they liked it, compared to 46% of those aged 25 to 39, 36% of those in their forties and fifties, and 30% of those aged 60 and over.

7.6 Just over three-quarters (76%) 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 (48% compared to 37% of other drivers).

7.7 Effectiveness of enforcement. Support for speed enforcement remains high. Three quarters (76%) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement ‘enforcing the speed limit helps to lower the road toll’; 14% disagreed and 10% said they were neutral on this issue. This has changed little since 1995 (Figure 7). Young drivers aged 15-24 were less likely to agree that enforcing speed limits helps lower the road toll (62%) than older drivers (79%).

7.8 Risk of being caught. About a quarter (26%) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement ‘the risk of being caught speeding is small’ (Figure 8). People aged 60 and over were most likely to think that the risk of being caught speeding is small (33% agreed with the statement). Males (30%) were more likely than females (22%) to think the risk of being caught speeding was small.

7.9 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. 6% said they were too high and 7% that they were too low.

7.10 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, 74% said they wanted it kept as it is, 6% thought it should be lowered and 20% thought it should be raised.

7.11 People who had received speeding tickets were most likely to say the speed limit should be raised. A third (34%) of people who’d received a speeding ticket thought the 100km/h limit should be raised.

7.12 Urban speed limit. Support for retaining the current 50 km/h speed limit was similarly strong. 84% of New Zealanders said that the urban 50km/h speed limit should be retained and a further 7% 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 8% in 2013.

7.13 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 9 shows the results. In 2013, half (50%) thought the speed limit around urban schools should be 30 km/h or less. 15% said 20 km/h or less, 35% said between 21 and 30 km/h, 42% gave answers between 31 and 40 km/h and 7% said 40-50 km/h. Less than 1 percent said the limit around schools should be more than 50 km/h.

Figure 9: Speed limits around schools should be ...

Graph about speed limits around schools

7.14 Definition of speeding. Participants were asked ‘On the open road, what speed do you consider to be speeding?’. 25% 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.

7.15 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 limit[4], or 140 km/h on the open road. In 2013, 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 fairly stable since. Only 8% said automatic loss of licence at 140 km/h would be unfair (the remainder were neutral or said they didn’t know).

7.16 Just over half (54%) said automatic licence loss would be fair at 130 km/h on the open road. This is similar to earlier years.

7.17 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.

7.18 Speeding in urban areas was also regarded as highly unacceptable. In 2013, 95% supported loss of licence for speeding at 90 km/h in a 50km/h zone. This has gradually increased from 88% in 1999. 83% supported automatic loss of licence at 80 km/h, and 53% were in favour of automatic licence loss at 70 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.

7.19 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 7). 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.

7.20 Self-reported speeding infringements. Seventeen percent of male drivers and twelve percent of female drivers reported receiving at least one speeding ticket in the previous year. Not surprisingly, drivers who said they liked driving fast were more likely to have had a speeding ticket (20%) than those who disliked driving fast (8%). 17% of people who said they had driven while intoxicated had received a speeding ticket, compared to 14% of people who didn’t report any drink-driving.

7.21 Chance of receiving a ticket. New Zealanders expect to be caught if they speed past a speed camera (see section 8, ‘Speed cameras’), but are less convinced that they’ll be stopped if they’re passing a Police officer without a camera.

7.22 Although more than two thirds (72%) of New Zealanders 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 (41%) would expect a ticket at 115 km/h (Figure 10). In contrast, over three-quarters (80%) said they would be likely to get a ticket if they drove past a speed camera at 115 km/h (see Figure 11).

Figure 10: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a Police officer (without a camera) at various speedsGraph showing perceived chance of a ticket at various speedsFigure 11: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if driving at 115 km/h past a ...

Graph showing perceived chance of a ticket at 115km/h

7.23 Around a quarter (22%) said there was a low or very low chance of receiving a ticket if they drove past a Police officer at 115 km/h.

7.24 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 10). In 2013, nearly a fifth (18%) 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 11% a decade ago.

7.25 In 2013, a new question was asked about the effectiveness of roadside speed indicator devices at slowing the respondents down. 86% said they were very or quite effective. Only 2% said they have no effect.

8 Speed cameras

Figure 12: Attitudes to speed cameras (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Graph showing attitudes to speed cameras

8.1 Effectiveness of speed cameras. Nearly two-thirds of New Zealand adults (62%) agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘Using speed cameras helps lower the road toll’. 23% said speed cameras don’t help to lower the road toll and 16% were neutral on this issue. This has shown little net change over the last decade. (Figure 12).

8.2 Cameras operated fairly. Nearly two thirds of New Zealanders (65%) thought that the way speed cameras are being operated is fair.

8.3 Awareness of cameras. Two fifths (40%) of New Zealanders said that they often saw speed cameras on their usual roads (see Figure 12). This has been fairly static over the last decade. Those least likely to say they often saw speed cameras were people living in Southland (12%).

8.4 Chance of receiving a ticket. Most New Zealanders (80%) said they would expect to get a ticket if they passed a speed camera on the open road at 115 km/h (see Figure 13).

Figure 13: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a speed camera at various speeds

Graph showing the percieved risk of ticket from speed camera

8.5 Ninety-one 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 72% who thought they’d receive a ticket if they drove past a police officer without a camera at 120 km/h.

8.6 Forty-five percent would expect to receive a ticket if they passed a speed camera at 110 km/h. This was the same as in 2011.

9 General enforcement and compliance

9.1 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 up until 2010 but has been fairly steady since then (Figure 14).

Figure 14: Perceived chance of being stopped by Police if breaking a traffic law other than drink-driving or speeding

Graph showing the percieved risk of being caught

9.2 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.

9.3 In 2013, 93% 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.

9.4 Most people thought that unmarked cars were an effective and fair road safety measure. Almost three quarters (71%) 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. 21% thought the use of unmarked cars was not very effective and only 4% said they had no effect. (The remaining 4% said they didn’t know).

9.5 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, 86% of those who were aware of the use of unmarked cars said that this would be ‘fair’ or ‘very fair’. Only 5% said it would be ‘unfair’ or ‘very unfair’. The remaining 9% said they were neutral on this issue.

9.6 Demerits and fines. In 2012, new questions were asked about the effectiveness of demerits and fines in preventing reoffending. These questions were not asked in 2013. In 2012, if they were caught for a traffic offence, 81% said that a fine would be ‘very effective’ or ‘quite effective’ in stopping them reoffending.

9.7 If they were caught for a traffic offence, 81% said that demerit points would be ‘very effective’ or ‘quite effective’ in stopping them reoffending.

10 Safety belts and child restraints

10.1 Figures 15 and 16 show key perceptions relating to safety belts and safety belt enforcement.

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

Graph showing attitudes to safety beltsFigure 16: Attitudes to safety belts (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Graph showing attitudes to safety belts

10.2 Effectiveness of safety belt enforcement. 89% of New Zealanders agreed that enforcing the use of safety belts helps to lower the road toll. Teenagers were somewhat less likely to support safety belt enforcement, with only 65% of people aged 15-19 saying that safety belt enforcement helps to lower the road toll.

10.3 Enforcement of adult safety belt use. 41% 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 for the last 5 years (see Figure 15).

10.4 If travelling as a front-seat passenger without a safety belt, 39% would expect to be stopped by Police. For rear seat passengers, 18% said it was likely or very likely that they would be stopped if they travelled unbelted in the rear seat. This is the same as in 2012.

Figure 17: Chance that an adult will be caught if not wearing a seatbelt while...

Graph showing the percieved risk of being caught not wearing safety belt10.5 Child restraint enforcement. The general perception is that child restraint use is more rigorously enforced than adult safety belt use. Fifty-eight 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 18).

Figure 18: Chance of being stopped if travelling with an unrestrained child in the...

Graph showing the percieved risk of being caught without child restraint

10.6 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. Ninety-four percent of people with a child under five said that their child was in a child restraint (including infant and booster seats). 5% said the child was in a seatbelt and the remaining 1% said their child was unrestrained.

10.7 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?’. Just over  half (52%) said the child was in a seatbelt. 32% reported that their child was in a booster seat or child harness, and 15% said their child was in a child seat. Only 1% said that the child was unrestrained.

10.8 In 2013, the 5 to 9 age group was split into 5 to 6 and 7 to 9 years. For 5 to 6 years the results were; 17% in a seatbelt, 53% in a booster seat or child harness, 28% in a child seat and 3% unrestrained. For 7 to 9 years the results were; 73% in a seatbelt, 19% in a booster seat or child harness, 8% in a child seat and 0% unrestrained (see Figure 19).

Figure 19: Last time you drove with this child in the car, was the child in a...

Graph showing how children restrained

10.9 Penalties. Just over a third of New Zealanders (35%) said that the penalties for not wearing a safety belt were not very severe even if you were caught (Figure 16).

10.10 Injury risk. In 2012, a new question was asked. 5% said that the risk of being seriously injured in a crash if you are not wearing a seatbelt is low. The figure for 2013 is 7%.  91% disagreed in 2012, compared with 89% in 2013.

11 Fatigue and distraction

11.1 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.

11.2 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).

11.3 In 2013, 29% 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 13% and 9% respectively. Figure 20 shows the details.

Figure 20: In the last 12 months, have you had trouble staying awake while driving...

Graph showing difficulty staying awake while driving

11.4 Thirty-seven percent of Otago drivers and 37% of those in the Bay of Plenty region said they had had trouble staying awake on a long trip at least once or twice in the previous 12 months.

11.5 Distraction. An open ended question ‘What things do you find distracting when you are driving?’ was introduced in 2011. The table shows the top 10 distractions for 2013 compared with the previous two years.

Table: Percentage of respondents that identified distractions

Distraction

Percentage of respondents

 

2011

2012

2013

People outside car

23

27

29

Children (specifically)

29

28

29

Passengers (adult or in general)

18

22

21

Radio/ Stereo/ IPod

19

19

16

Other Road users

24

18

16

Billboards

17

14

15

Cell-phone/ RT (hand held or not specified)

13

14

14

Hands-free cell-phone

9

7

10

Texting/ reading texts

12

10

8

11.6 In 2013, the top three distractions identified were people outside the car (29%), children (29%), and passengers in general (21%).

11.7 The in-car distractions most commonly mentioned are children (29%), passengers in general (21%), radios/ stereos/ mp3 players (16%) and cell phones (14%).

11.8 Cell phones (including ringing cell phones and other passengers using cell phones) were mentioned by 14% of drivers, 8% mentioned texting or reading text messages and 10% mentioned hands free cell phones.

11.9 In 2013, a new question was asked about the likelihood of getting caught using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving.  27% said it was fairly or very likely, while 47% said it was fairly or very unlikely

12 Roading

12.1 Importance of roading improvements. Respondents were asked how important improving road engineering and design is for road safety. 67% said that improving road engineering and design would be ‘very important’ for road safety, and a further 28% said it would be ‘fairly important’. Overall, 95% rated roading improvements as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important for road safety.

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Public attitudes to road safety survey 2013 summary report, including tables and sampling information [PDF, 863 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). www.lcb.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/alcohol___the_law/17511/alcohol_impairment_chart/611972(external link)  accessed 28/7/10.

3 Safer Journeys, page 32

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