New Kiwi road safety ad challenges the ‘right’ to speed

08/01/2018

A new road safety advertising campaign is directly challenging speeding drivers to slow down - and it might be the most powerful yet.

Assistant Commissioner for road policing Sandra Venables talks to Lloyd Burr on RadioLIVE's Summer Drive.

'Less Speed = Less Harm'

The joint NZ Transport Agency/police ad campaign urges speeders to stop defending their perceived 'right' to speed.

"Every week, 11 people are seriously injured or killed in a speed-related crash on New Zealand roads, but a substantial portion of our society does not see the connection between speed and crashes," says NZ Transport Agency director of safety and environment Harry Wilson.

That needs to change, because the facts and the physics are indisputable.

In the ad, a police officer meets several speeding drivers who offer excuses for why they're speeding.

He then deals with the consequences as he visits crash sites, collects jewellery to identify the dead and visits the families of the victims.

"I'm doing everything in my power to stop you from seeing the things I've seen," he says.

Sandra Venables says the consequences of people driving too fast for the conditions can be devastating.

Police officers see the human cost of speed nearly every day on our roads.

Crashes occur due to a wide range of mistakes, whether involuntary or deliberate, but the outcome is vastly different at different speeds.

"Even when speed doesn't cause the crash, it is the single biggest determinant in whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed."

Of those who died in 2017:

  • slightly more than half - 195 - were drivers
  • 82 were passengers
  • 45 were on a motorbike
  • 40 were pedestrians
  • and 18 were on a pushbike.

A small change in speed makes a big difference to injury severity.

“Our plea to all drivers this year is to be courteous and slow down, to make sure you get to your destination safely,” says Sandra Venables.

Enforcement has more to do with reducing harm than it does with issuing tickets and fines. This campaign reminds people that the role of Police is to protect those who use the road.

The target audience

The new campaign targets competent male drivers aged between 35-60 years, who regularly drive a bit fast and are not keen on being asked to slow down.

They routinely drive at speeds above the limit and travel faster than the traffic around them. They’re confident in their driving ability and the fact that nothing untoward is likely to happen. They recognise that speed can affect the outcome of a crash but don’t see this as an issue they need to concern themselves with.

They want to see less harm on our roads – they’re happy that Police enforce our roads but they believe Police aren’t focusing on the right things; ‘speed isn’t the issue‘. They’re convinced that they themselves are very good drivers; they want Police to stop picking on them and focus on ’the bad drivers who cause crashes’.

The approach

Recent advertising has aimed to shift speeding drivers’ and the wider public’s attitudes about speed, taking the safe system approach with messages about human fragility and the inevitability of mistakes.

The campaign has a role too in reminding people that reducing violations is also a part of the safe system, and that enforcement may be needed to encourage compliance and ultimately reduce harm.

So, this new campaign aims to get the audience to accept the role of speed enforcement - to understand that the role of the Police is to protect those who use the road by dealing with anything that might cause harm.

It aims to get the audience to see that enforcement has more to do with reducing harm than it does with tickets and fines.

Listen to the full interview with Sandra Venables above.

Summer Drive with Lloyd Burr, 3pm - 6pm weekdays on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.

RadioLIVE/Newshub.