1 Executive summary

1.1 This survey is part of the Ministry’s suite of tools used in evidence-based policy development and evaluation of progress in road safety. The survey gathers comparable measurements of public attitudes and self reported behaviours to assess the effects of road safety legislation, enforcement, and publicity programmes. Each year the survey includes core items but, over the years, other items have been added or removed to reflect current policy issues and interests.

1.2 General attitudes to road safety and enforcement.
There has been little change in the perception of safety of road travel and road standards over most of the time the survey has been running. Around 80 percent say our roads are fairly or very safe.
Public support for road safety advertising and police enforcement remains high, with most people wanting the same or more than the current levels. Similarly, most people want the severity of penalties to be the same or increased.

1.3 Perceived safety issues.
“Inexperience/lacking skills” is mentioned as the top main thing that can make travelling unsafe. Speed, alcohol/drugs, road conditions and other drivers complete the top five items. Each of these has consistently been near the top of the list of items mentioned as making travelling unsafe.

1.4 Alcohol-impaired driving.
Most people recognise that drink-driving is risky with only 7 percent saying there is not much chance of an accident when driving after drinking if you are careful. Most of the drink-driving indicators have either slowly improved or remained fairly static over the last decade.
Legislation to lower the adult alcohol limit from 80 to 50mg was passed in July 2014, taking effect 1 December 2014. People were asked what effect the law change had had on their drinking. Over a third (35 percent) said they now drink less before driving.

1.5 Drink-driving enforcement.
About three-quarters (73 percent) of New Zealanders agree that compulsory breath testing enforcement helps lower the road toll. This has dropped from a recent high of 78 percent in 2012. Most of the key attitudes show small improvements across time, leading to definite improvements long-term. For example, in 1996, 46 percent of respondents thought the risk of being caught drink-driving was small. After dipping to as low as 32 percent in 2004 this rose again to over 40 percent before slowly improving to 32 percent in 2015 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: The risk of being caught is small (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)Attitude survey Figure1

1.6 Speed and speed enforcement.
The majority of New Zealanders recognise the risks of speeding, with only 14 percent saying there is not much chance of an accident when speeding if you are careful.
Most think the current open road and urban speed limits are appropriate and 87 percent stated that the speed limits on the roads they usually drive on are about right.
Enforcement of the current speed limits is supported by the majority of New Zealanders, with 72 percent agreeing that enforcing the speed limit helps lower the road toll. This is a reduction from 81 percent in 2014.
After improvements in attitudes prior to 2004, many of the indicators related to speed and speed enforcement have shown little net change over the last decade.

1.7 Speed cameras.
Sixty-one percent of New Zealanders agree that the use of speed cameras helps lower the road toll. This is a reduction from 67 percent in 2014.
The perceived chance of receiving a speed camera ticket when travelling at speeds a little over 100 km/h has increased over recent years.

1.8 General enforcement and compliance.
The perceived chance of being stopped by Police if breaking a traffic law other than drink-driving or speeding, has shown small improvements across time, but has been fairly static since 2010. In 1997, 23 percent thought this was likely or fairly likely, rising to 37-41 percent from 2010 to 2015.

1.9 Safety belts and child restraints.
Most recognised the safety benefits of safety belts with only 6 percent stating that the risk of being seriously injured in a crash if you are not wearing a safety belt is low.
The majority of New Zealanders (86 percent) agreed that enforcing the use of safety belts helps to lower the road toll. Most of the indicators relating to safety belts and child restraints have shown improvements across time.
From 1 November 2013, all child passengers are required to be in a car seat or booster seat until their seventh birthday. A question about restraint use by children aged 5 to 6, and 7 to 9 was asked each year from 2013. The responses indicate a small increase in the use of child and booster seats by the 5 to 6 age group and an increase in the use of booster seats as opposed to seat belts by the 7 to 9 age group.

1.10 Fatigue and distraction.
Fatigue was a problem mentioned by 26 percent of drivers when travelling on holiday or long trips. This is similar to the previous four years (the current fatigue question was first asked in 2011).
The top three distractions while driving mentioned by respondents were children, people outside the car, and passengers. This has also been consistent over the last four years.

1.11 Roading.
Over the past decade, between 94 percent and 97 percent of respondents have stated that improving road engineering and design is fairly or very important for road safety.

2 Introduction

The New Zealand survey of Public Attitudes to Road Safety has been undertaken periodically since 1974 and annually since 1994. The survey evaluates 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.

Some justification for this focus is provided in crash statistics. In 2014, 23 percent of fatal crashes and 13 percent of injury crashes had alcohol and/or drugs as a contributing factor. 29 percent of fatal crashes and 16 percent of injury crashes had “too fast for conditions” as a contributing factor. 56 people were killed not wearing safety belts or restraints in fatal crashes. Crash investigators considered that 11 people would have survived if they had been wearing safety belts.

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
  • fatigue and distraction
  • roading.

3 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 2015, 1667 people were interviewed, 1512 of whom held driver licences. Further details of the sample and methodology may be found in Appendix A.

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. Around 90 percent thought these measures should be increased or maintained at current levels.

4.2 How safe is road travel in New Zealand? Eleven percent of New Zealanders described road travel in this country as ‘very safe’. A further 69 percent described it as ‘fairly safe’; 17 percent described it as ‘fairly unsafe’ and 3 percent as ‘very unsafe’[1].  Overall, 80 percent described the roads as ‘very safe’ or ‘fairly safe’ (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: General attitudes

Attitude survey Figure24.3 Road safety enforcement. Overall, public support for Police enforcement remains high. Thirty-three percent of New Zealanders said that Police effort to catch people breaking road safety laws should be increased further. This is a significant decrease over the results from last year (40 percent). A further 58 percent wanted that effort maintained at current levels. Only 7 percent thought Police effort should be decreased. Since these questions were first asked in 1995, there has been a shift away from thinking there should be more Police enforcement. Most of this change took place before 2005. Since then support for more Police effort has slightly decreased with more people thinking that the level of enforcement is about right (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: How much effort should the Police put into catching people...

Attitude survey Figure34.4 Penalties. In 2015, 33 percent of New Zealanders said that penalties for breaking road safety laws should be increased. Fifty-six percent thought penalties should remain about the same as they are now, and only 5 percent were in favour of reducing the severity of penalties. Over the last five years, support for more severe penalties has been slowly decreasing with more people thinking penalties are about right (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Should penalties for breaking road safety laws be...

Attitude survey Figure44.5 Advertising. Forty-three percent of New Zealand adults thought that there should be more publicity and advertising about road safety. Fifty-one percent thought the amount of publicity and advertising should remain about the same as at present. Only 4 percent wanted to see a reduction in publicity and advertising about road safety (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Should the amount of publicity and advertising about road safety be...

Attitude survey Figure54.6 Road design and standards. Seventeen percent of New Zealanders described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very safe’. A further 65 percent thought that their usual roads were ‘fairly safe’. Eighteen percent 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 (Figure 2).

4.7 Northland, Gisborne, and Canterbury residents were most likely to describe the design and standards of their roads as unsafe. Thirty-four percent of Northland residents, 34 percent of Gisborne residents and 28 percent of Canterbury residents described the design and standard of the roads they normally used as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ unsafe.

4.8 Road safety hazards. Respondents were asked what things can make travelling on New Zealand roads unsafe, and then asked to pick the main thing. Figure 6 shows all the items mentioned by more than 2 percent of respondents.

Figure 6: What is the MAIN thing that can make travelling on New Zealand roads unsafe? – top items for 2015

Attitude survey Figure64.9 While it can be difficult to consistently categorise an open-ended question like this over time, certain items can be identified consistently (see Figure 7). Speed and alcohol/drugs were both consistently in the top five items mentioned over the past decade. The rise of mobile phones as a perceived main road travel hazard can be seen from 2011 on. Note that many items that could not be consistently categorised over time are not included in this graph.

Figure 7: What is the MAIN thing that can make travelling on New Zealand roads unsafe? – time series of selected items

Attitude survey Figure7

5 Alcohol-impaired driving

5.1 Figure 8 and Figure 9 show some key attitudinal measures related to drink-driving.

Figure 8: Attitudes to alcohol (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)Attitude survey Figure8Figure 9: Attitudes to alcohol (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)Attitude survey Figure9

5.2 Risk of crash. Most people recognise that drink-driving is risky. However, 7 percent of New Zealanders said that ‘there is not much chance of an accident when driving after drinking if you are careful’ (see Figure 9 above).

5.3 People in Bay of Plenty, Northland, Waikato and Manawatu were least likely to recognise the risk of drink-driving. Fourteen percent of Bay of Plenty residents, 11 percent of Northland and Waikato residents and 10 percent of Manawatu residents said that there was not much chance of an accident when driving after drinking if you are careful.

5.4 Blood alcohol limit.  In 2013, 60% 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 8).

5.5 In 2013, 43 percent of New Zealanders thought the limit should be lowered from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml. A further 18 percent wanted it lowered to zero. Nearly a third (31 percent) thought the limit should be left as it is. Only 2 percent were in favour of raising the legal limit. (The remaining 5 percent said they had no opinion on the subject). This question has not been asked since 2014 when the blood alcohol limit for drivers aged 20 years and over was lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml of blood.

5.6 Behaviour and attitudes. A new question was introduced in 2014, asking how much people would be drinking after the alcohol limit was lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml. Fifty-two percent said they never drink before driving, 25 percent said they will drink less, 22 percent said they will drink about the same, 0 percent said they will drink more, and 1 percent didn’t know.

5.7 In 2015, the question was rephrased to ask about how the new limit, which came into effect in December 2014, had affected drivers’ drinking before driving. Over a third (35 percent) said they now drink less before driving.

Figure 10: How will/has the lower legal limit affect/ed your behaviour?

Attitude survey Figure105.8 A further new question was introduced in 2014, asking respondents how many standard drinks they would be comfortable drinking in an hour if they were planning to drive immediately afterwards, assuming the alcohol limit is lowered from 80mg to 50mg.

5.9 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.

5.10 In 2015 the question was rephrased to reflect the fact that the limit had been lowered to 50mg/100ml. Figure 11 shows the results. From 2014 to 2015 the percentage of women who said they would be comfortable having only one or no drinks during the hour rose from 90 to 94 percent. For men the comparable increase was from 73 to 76 percent. Overall (men and women together) the increase is statistically significant.

Figure 11: Drinking before driving

Attitude survey Figure115.11 In 2015, 94 percent of women said they would be comfortable having one or no drinks during the hour, compared with 76 percent of men. A further 5 percent of women but 21 percent of men said two 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[2].

5.12 Among people who admitted to having driven while slightly intoxicated, 69 percent thought they would be comfortable with one or no drinks, and a further 26 percent with two drinks. Four percent said three or more drinks. For other people 89 percent said they would be comfortable with one or no drinks, 10 percent said two drinks and 1 percent said three or more drinks.

5.13 Social influences. Peer pressure and social drinking remain strong influences. Nearly a third (32 percent) said that it was hard to keep track of what they drank on social occasions, and 39 percent said it was difficult to ‘go easy’ when drinking with friends (Figure 9). These results have shown little change over the last ten years.

5.14 Peer pressure was felt most strongly among the young. Fifty seven percent of people aged 15 to 19 and 44 percent of those aged 20 to 24 said it was difficult to go easy and drink less than the group.

5.15 Self-reported driving while ‘slightly intoxicated’. The percentage of drivers who said they had driven while slightly intoxicated during the 12 months before the survey was unchanged from last year (see Figure 9). In 2015, 17 percent of drivers, 22 percent of male drivers and 30 percent of 20-24 year old 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. Sixty-one percent of New Zealanders said that our drink-driving laws were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ effective at reducing the road toll. This is the highest this has been in the last 10 years (Figure 8).

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

5.18 Penalties. Forty-four percent agreed with the statement ‘penalties for drinking and driving are not very severe even if you are caught’. This is a significant drop from last year (49 percent) and is the lowest in the last decade. The response to this question 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 25 and over were more likely to think penalties are not very severe (46 percent) than those aged 15-24 (36 percent).

5.20 Drink and drugged driving. A new question about driving while affected by drugs, with or without alcohol, was introduced in 2014. In 2015, seven percent said they had driven while affected by prescription or pharmacy drugs, including 1 percent combined with alcohol. Two percent said they had driven while affected by other drugs (whether legal or not), including 1 percent combined with alcohol.

Driven while affected by...

And alcohol

No alcohol

Total

prescription or pharmacy drugs

1%

6%

7%

other drugs

1%

1%

2%

Note: the numbers in this table are rounded to the nearest percent. The unrounded numbers add correctly.

5.21 Over twice as many males (2.5 percent) said they had driven while affected by ‘other drugs’ with or without alcohol, compared with females (1 percent).

6 Drink-driving enforcement

6.1 Figure 12 and Figure 13 show key attitudes towards drink-driving enforcement measures, including compulsory breath testing. A number of key measures have shown a small improvement in safety perceptions.

Figure 12: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Attitude survey Figure12Figure 13: Attitudes to drink-driving enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Attitude survey Figure136.2 CBT lowers road toll. Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement that ‘compulsory breath testing helps to lower the road toll’. (This is a reduction from the 2014 level when 76 percent agreed). Twelve percent disagreed with this statement. The remaining 15 percent said they were neutral or didn’t know. This measure has shown little net change over the last decade (see Figure 12).

6.3 Drink-driving enforcement. Just under one third (32 percent) of New Zealanders said that the risk of being caught drink-driving was small (see Figure 13).

6.4 Checkpoints. Over the last 6 years, fewer people than in the previous 5 years have said that they ‘seldom saw checkpoints except during blitzes’ (see Figure 13). In 2015, 56 percent said they seldom saw checkpoints. People living in Southland (66 percent), Hawke’s Bay (64 percent) and Canterbury (62 percent) were more likely than residents of other regions to say that they seldom saw a checkpoint.

6.5 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, 57 percent 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. Male drivers (20 percent) are more likely than female drivers (12 percent) to have been stopped three or more times in the last year.

6.7 Avoiding checkpoints. Thirty-nine percent of New Zealanders said that they could tell where checkpoints would be. Fifty-seven percent of Northland residents and 51 percent of Bay of Plenty and Gisborne residents thought they knew where checkpoints would be.

6.8 About one in five New Zealanders (21 percent) said they could often avoid checkpoints if they saw them early enough (Figure 13), and 18 percent said they used the back streets to drive home when they might be over the limit. People living in Manawatu (32 percent) and Southland (31 percent) were more likely than others to say that checkpoints could be avoided if you saw them early enough. Those in Hawke’s Bay (43 percent), Gisborne (22 percent) and Taranaki (22 percent) were more likely to say that they used the back streets to drive home when they might be over the limit.

6.9 Compulsory screening. Eleven percent of New Zealanders thought that some people stopped at checkpoints were not tested even when they were over the limit (Figure 13). This is a reduction on 15 percent in 2014. Fourteen percent of those aged between 15 and 29 thought that some people weren’t tested, compared to 10 percent of those aged 30 and over.

6.10 Chance of being stopped late at night. About half (49 percent) of New Zealanders thought there was a good chance of being stopped at a checkpoint if driving late at night. Twenty-eight percent said they disagreed that there was a good chance of being stopped. The remaining 23 percent said they were neutral or didn’t know.

6.11 Chance of being stopped, by driving situation.  Sixty percent of New Zealanders would expect to be stopped and tested if they were drink-driving in a large city. A further 24 percent rated the chance as 50-50.

6.12 Thirty-nine percent thought there was a high chance of being stopped and tested if they were drink-driving on a major highway. Thirty-seven percent thought they would be stopped if they were drink-driving in a small town. Seventeen 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. Fifty-four percent of New Zealanders said they would expect to be stopped and breath-tested if they were drink-driving between 10pm and midnight. Forty-five percent would expect to be caught if they were drink-driving between midnight and 2am (see Figure 12). Forty-two percent said they would expect to be stopped if they drank and drove between 6pm and 10pm.

6.14 Fewer people thought they would be caught if drinking and driving between 2am and 8am (33 percent), or during the day (17 percent).

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 can 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. In the scenario presented in the question, they would still be disqualified from driving for three months. After that they would need an interlock in order to drive. The user would 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. Eighty-nine percent said it was fair, 5 percent said it was unfair. This question was not asked in 2014 or 2015.

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 14 and Figure 15 show trends in key speed-related measures.

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

Attitude survey Figure14Figure 15: Attitudes to speed and speed enforcement (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

(note that the scale differs from the previous graph)

Attitude survey Figure157.2 Risk of crash. Fourteen 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 14 to 19 percent range in recent years (see Figure 15).

7.3 Males were more likely to think speeding wasn’t dangerous as long as they were careful (18 percent) than females (11 percent). Failing to acknowledge the risk was also more common among Waikato (20 percent), Auckland (18 percent) and Bay of Plenty (17 percent) residents.

7.4 Driving fast. Thirty-seven percent 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 15).

7.5 Overall, 41 percent of males and 33 percent 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: 52 percent of drivers aged 15 to 24 said they liked it, compared to 37 percent of those aged 25 to 59, and 28 percent of those aged 60 and over.

7.6 Just under three-fifths (58 percent) of male drivers aged 15-24 said that they liked driving fast. People who admitted driving while intoxicated are also more likely than others to say they like driving fast (52 percent compared to 34 percent of other drivers).

7.7 Effectiveness of enforcement. Support for speed enforcement remains relatively high. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement ‘enforcing the speed limit helps to lower the road toll’; 15 percent disagreed and 12 percent said they were neutral on this issue. This is a significant decrease over last year (81 percent agreement) and is the lowest it has been in the last decade (see Figure 14).

7.8 Risk of being caught. Just under a quarter (23 percent) of New Zealanders agreed with the statement ‘the risk of being caught speeding is small’ (Figure 15). This has dropped from about 30 percent 5 years ago. Young people (15-24) were less likely than others to think the risk of being caught speeding was small (11 percent).

7.9 Speed limits. As in recent years, the great majority of New Zealanders (87 percent) said that speed limits on the roads they normally use are about right. Only 4 percent said they were too high and 7 percent 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, 78 percent said they wanted it kept as it is, 3 percent thought it should be lowered and 18 percent thought it should be raised (Figure 16). Since these questions were first asked in 1995, there has been a decrease in support for raising the open road speed limit, from 28 percent in 1995 to 18 percent in 2015. Support for raising the speed limit has not changed much over the last decade.

Figure 16: Should the 100km/h open road limit be...

Attitude survey Figure167.11 People who had received speeding tickets were most likely to say the speed limit should be raised. Thirty percent of people who had received a speeding ticket thought the 100 km/h limit should be raised.

7.12 Urban speed limit. Support for retaining the current 50 km/h speed limit was similarly strong. Eighty-six percent of New Zealanders said that the urban 50 km/h speed limit should be retained and a further 6 percent 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 percent in 1995 to 7 percent in 2015 (Figure 17).

Figure 17: Should the 50km/h urban speed limit be...

Attitude survey Figure177.13 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 18 shows the results. In 2015, half (50 percent) thought the speed limit around urban schools should be 30 km/h or less. Seventeen percent said 20 km/h or less, 33 percent said between 21 and 30 km/h, 45 percent gave answers between 31 and 40 km/h and 5 percent said 40-50 km/h. Less than 1 percent said the limit around schools should be more than 50 km/h.

Figure 18: Speed limits around schools should be ...

Attitude survey Figure187.14 Definition of speeding. Participants were asked ‘On the open road, what speed do you consider to be speeding?’ Twenty-nine percent named speeds of 105 km/h or less and 59 percent named speeds of 110 km/h or less as ‘speeding’. A further 13 percent 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 2015, automatic loss of licence at 140 km/h was described as ‘fair’ or ‘very fair’ by 80 percent of New Zealanders (Figure 14). This has gradually increased from 68 percent in 1999 to 78 percent in 2007 and has been fairly stable since. Only 7 percent 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 (56 percent) 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 2015, 94 percent supported loss of licence for speeding at 90 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. Eighty percent supported automatic loss of licence at 80 km/h, and 51 percent were in favour of automatic licence loss at 70 km/h in a 50 km/h zone (Figure 19).

Figure 19: Automatic loss of licence if caught speeding in a 50km/h zone would be fair at...

Attitude survey Figure197.19 Repeat offending. Sixty-four percent said that it would be fair or very fair for three speeding tickets in a year to result in automatic loss of licence (see Figure 14). About one in five (20 percent) said automatic licence loss for three tickets in a year would be unfair or very unfair, and 17 percent were neutral on this issue or said they didn’t know.

7.20 Self-reported speeding infringements. Twenty-three percent of male drivers and 14 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 (25 percent) than those who disliked driving fast (11 percent). Twenty-six percent of people who said they had driven while intoxicated had received a speeding ticket, compared to 16 percent 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 just under two thirds (64 percent) 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 (44 percent) would expect a ticket at 115 km/h (Figure 20). In contrast, most (89 percent) said they would be likely to get a ticket if they drove past a speed camera at 115 km/h (see Figure 21), which is a significant increase over the 80 percent from 2 years ago.

Figure 20: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a Police officer (without a camera) at various speedsAttitude survey Figure20Figure 21: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if driving at 115 km/h past a ...

Attitude survey Figure217.23 Around one in five (21 percent) 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 In 2013, a new question was asked about the effectiveness of roadside speed indicator devices at slowing the respondents down. Eighty-six percent said they were very or quite effective. Only 2 percent said they have no effect. This question was not asked in 2014 or 2015.

8 Speed cameras

Figure 22: Attitudes to speed cameras (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Attitude survey Figure228.1 Effectiveness of speed cameras. Sixty-one percent of New Zealand adults agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘Using speed cameras helps lower the road toll’. Twenty-three percent said speed cameras don’t help to lower the road toll and 16 percent were neutral on this issue. While the level of agreement is lower in 2015 than it was in 2014 there has been no net change over the five years (Figure 22).

8.2 Cameras operated fairly. Nearly two thirds of New Zealanders (63 percent) thought that the way speed cameras are being operated is fair.

8.3 Awareness of cameras. Thirty-nine percent of New Zealanders said that they often saw speed cameras on their usual roads (see Figure 22). This has been fairly static over the last decade. Those least likely to say they often saw speed cameras were people living in Southland (16 percent).

8.4 Chance of receiving a ticket. Most New Zealanders (89 percent) said they would expect to get a ticket if they passed a speed camera on the open road at 115 km/h (see Figure 23). This is a significant increase over the 80 percent from 2 years ago.

Figure 23: Perceived chance of receiving a ticket if passing a speed camera at various speeds

Attitude survey Figure238.5 Ninety-six 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 64 percent who thought they would receive a ticket if they drove past a police officer without a camera at 120 km/h.

8.6 The percentage of people who think they would receive a ticket if they passed a camera at 110 km/h or 105 km/h is significantly higher than it was two years ago. At 110 km/h, 61 percent would expect to receive a ticket compared to 45 percent in 2013. At 105 km/h over a quarter (27 percent) would expect to receive a ticket compared to 15 percent in 2013.

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 24).

Figure 24: Perceived chance of being stopped by Police if breaking a traffic law other than drink-driving or speeding

Attitude survey Figure249.2 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 2015, 94 percent of New Zealanders were aware that Police use a fleet of unmarked vehicles to detect traffic offending. Awareness was high throughout New Zealand.

9.4 Most people thought that unmarked cars were an effective and fair road safety measure. Sixty-eight percent 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. About a quarter thought the use of unmarked cars was not very effective (24 percent) or had no effect (3 percent). The remaining 5 percent 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. The majority (85 percent) of those who were aware of the use of unmarked cars said that this would be ‘fair’ or ‘very fair’. Only 6 percent said it would be ‘unfair’ or ‘very unfair’. Males (81 percent) are less likely than females (88 percent) to say it is fair to use unmarked police cars.

10 Safety belts and child restraints

10.1 Figures 25 and 26 show key perceptions relating to safety belts and safety belt enforcement.

Figure 25: Attitudes to safety belts (increasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Attitude survey Figure25Figure 26: Attitudes to safety belts (decreasing trend reflects improvement in safety attitudes)

Attitude survey Figure2610.2 Effectiveness of safety belt enforcement. The majority of New Zealanders (86 percent) agreed that enforcing the use of safety belts helps to lower the road toll. Teenagers and young adults were less likely to support safety belt enforcement, with only two-thirds (65 percent) of people aged 15-24 saying that safety belt enforcement helps to lower the road toll.

10.3 Enforcement of adult safety belt use. Forty-one percent of New Zealanders thought it ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ that they would be caught if they drove without wearing a safety belt (see Figure 25).

10.4 If travelling as a front-seat passenger without a safety belt, 37 percent would expect to be stopped by Police. For rear seat passengers, 18 percent said it was likely or very likely that they would be stopped if they travelled unbelted in the rear seat.

Figure 27: Chance that an adult will be caught if not wearing a safety belt while...

Attitude survey Figure2710.5 Child restraint enforcement. The general perception is that child restraint use is more rigorously enforced than adult safety belt use. Fifty-six percent said there was a high chance of being stopped if travelling with an unrestrained child in the front seat, but only 34 percent said this would be the case if the child were in the back seat (Figure 28).

Figure 28: Chance of being stopped if travelling with an unrestrained child in the...

Attitude survey Figure2810.6 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-five percent of people with a child under five said that their child was in a child restraint (including infant and booster seats). Four percent said the child was in a safety belt and the remaining 1 percent 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, safety belt or none of these?’ For 5 to 6 year olds; 12 percent were in a safety belt, 62 percent in a booster seat or child harness and 26 percent in a child seat. For 7 to 9 year olds; 43 percent were in a safety belt, 50 percent in a booster seat or child harness, 2 percent in a child seat and 5 percent unrestrained (see Figure 29).

10.8 From late 2013, a rule change required children up to 7 years old to be restrained in an appropriate child restraint. Since then the percentage of 7-9 year olds restrained in booster and child seats has increased from just over a quarter (27 percent) to over a half (52 percent).

Figure 29: Last time you drove with this child in the car, was the child...

Attitude survey Figure2910.9 Penalties. A third of New Zealanders (33 percent) said that the penalties for not wearing a safety belt were not very severe even if you were caught (Figure 26).

10.10 Injury risk. Eighty-nine percent of people disagreed that the risk of being seriously injured in a crash if you are not wearing a safety belt is low. Only 6 percent agreed.

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 percent) agreed with the statement. Fifty-eight percent ‘strongly agreed’ and 40 percent ‘agreed’. Only 1 percent 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 2015, 26 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 or from work' and 'in the course of work' were 13 percent and 9 percent respectively. Figure 30 shows the details.

Figure 30: In the last 12 months, have you had trouble staying awake while driving...

Attitude survey Figure3011.4 Male drivers (30 percent) are more likely than female drivers (22 percent) to say they had had trouble staying awake on a long trip at least once or twice in the previous 12 months.

11.5 Young drivers (21 percent for 15-24 year olds) and older drivers (18 percent of drivers over 60 years old) are less likely than other drivers (29 percent) to say they had had trouble staying awake on a long trip at least once or twice in the previous 12 months.

11.6 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 2015 compared with the previous four years.

Table: Percentage of respondents that identified distractions

Distraction

 

Percentage of respondents

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Children (specifically)

29

28

29

30

30

People outside car

23

27

29

29

28

Passengers (adult or in general)

18

22

21

22

25

Radio/stereo/iPod

19

19

16

19

21

Other road users

24

18

16

19

19

Cell phone/RT (hand held or not specified)

13

14

14

14

15

Hands-free cell phone

9

7

10

12

15

Billboards

17

14

15

13

14

Texting/reading texts

12

10

8

10

11

Eating/drinking

1

1

1

1

8

11.7 In 2015, the top three distractions identified were children (30 percent), people outside the car (28 percent), and passengers in general (25 percent).

11.8 The in-car distractions most commonly mentioned are children (30 percent), passengers in general (28 percent), radios/stereos/iPods (21 percent), cell phones (15 percent) and hands free cell phones (15 percent).

11.9 Cell phones (including ringing cell phones and other passengers using cell phones) were mentioned by 15 percent of drivers, 11 percent mentioned texting or reading text messages and 15 percent mentioned hands-free cell phones.

11.10 In 2013, a new question was asked about the likelihood of getting caught using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving. In 2015, 27 percent said it was fairly or very likely, while 49 percent said it was fairly or very unlikely.

12 Roading

12.1 Respondents were asked how important improving road engineering and design is for road safety. Over two thirds (67 percent) said that improving road engineering and design would be ‘very important’ for road safety, and a further 28 percent said it would be ‘fairly important’. Overall, 94 percent rated roading improvements as ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ important for road safety. This measure has stayed between 94 and 97 percent over the past decade (Figure 31).

Figure 31: Importance of road engineering and design

Attitude survey Figure31

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Public attitudes to road safety survey 2015 summary report, including tables and sampling information [PDF, 925 KB]

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Public attitudes to road safety survey 2015 data tables [XLS, 2.4 MB]

 


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.