Wellington’s wingmen are looking out for the young driver

30 April 2015

Wellington City Council is calling for mates of young drivers to step up and do their bit to help keep people safe on local roads.

Poster of two men sitting in a drawn car with the text
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The Council’s Looking Out for the Driver road safety campaign shows how passengers can make good wingmen and wingwomen by helping reduce driver distraction which can lead to crashes.

The campaign sets up a humorous scenario of a wingman helping a driver concentrate on driving the car. The wingman answers the driver’s phone and reminds him to keep his hands on the wheel and out of the pizza box. A driver’s wingman can be a second pair of eyes by watching for other vehicles and obstructions. They can also remind the driver to keep under the speed limit and not to drink and drive.

Young male drivers are 9 times more likely to crash than male drivers aged 55 to 59 years, and are more likely to be distracted when carrying passengers.

Nationally, the safety of young drivers aged 15 to 24 is a high strategic priority. In Wellington, the crash statistics peak at males 21 to 24 years old.

Councillor Andy Foster, Chair of the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee, says that the peers of young drivers can play a pivotal role in helping reduce crashes on Wellington roads.

“The evidence is clear that young drivers are often easily distracted, which puts them, their passengers and other road users at risk. The person in the passenger seat of the car has a really important role to play in ensuring the safety of everyone in the vehicle.”

“Passengers can make sure the driver isn’t distracted by things like cellphones. They can make sure their mates are fit to drive and stick to a safe speed for the conditions. After all, they are putting their lives in the driver’s hands.”

“We want young people to be out and about enjoying all the great facilities and attractions that Wellington has to offer, but we want to make sure they get home safely, and so does everyone else.”

“It’s not just the injuries that we are aiming to reduce, but also the traffic disruption and congestion that inevitably occurs when there is a crash.”

Between 2009 and 2013, almost 70 percent of crashes involving young drivers in Wellington occurred on local roads where the speed limit is less than 70km per hour.

Senior Sergeant Richard Hocken, Wellington District Road Policing Group, says that in Wellington over half of the crashes involved failure to give way or stop, rear-ending a vehicle or hitting an obstruction.

“Wellington’s roads can be busy and require all road users to be attentive. Even at speeds under 70km per hour the consequences of a crash can be severe. If you think these crashes won’t hurt, then think again. A collision at 50km per hour is equivalent to dropping a car from a four- storey building.

“Increasing the safety of young drivers is a high strategic priority identified in Safer Journeys, New Zealand's Road Safety Strategy to 2020. Locally, this issue is of concern due to the number of deaths and serious casualties resulting from these crashes.”

The creative for the Council’s latest road safety campaign is part of a series titled “The Wellington Way” which focusses on positive behaviour.

The concept for the $40,000 campaign was developed by Wellington City Council staff and jointly funded by the Council and NZTA. The campaign will be seen throughout the Wellington region.

Looking out for the driver – it’s the Wellington Way. Like it, love it, or share it  #TheWellingtonWay