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She’ll be right mate! Staunchness, speed and seatbelts – what Kiwi drivers still get wrong.

New Zealanders are well known for our determination and ‘just keep going’ attitude. But it seems it might be hurting us where we’re most at risk: on the roads. Read about four different ways our culture might be affecting our on-road choices.

New Zealanders are well known for our determination and ‘just keep going’ attitude. But it seems it might be hurting us where we’re most at risk: on the roads.

Here are four ways our culture might be affecting our on-road choices:

No.8 wire.

We’re creative and we love to stretch the limits and boundaries. It’s what makes us big favourites on the international stage. But while driving, it means that many people see a rule like a speed limit, and think they can streeeetch that too – often by 10kmph or more! Decisions about setting speed limits are based on a significant amount of evidence. While you might feel safe driving ‘just a bit’ over the limit, all the research shows even a small increase in speed raises crash risk for everyone on the road.

She’ll be right.

Who hasn’t used this in their everyday life? We’re well versed in trusting the outcome, and we like to assume things will work out just fine. But it might surprise you to know how many people apply this sort of thinking to important stuff like seatbelts, driving in wet weather, and the tread on tyres. Experience shows that not wearing a seatbelt increases the risk of a fatality in the event of a crash, that we take longer to stop in the wet, and that tyres without much tread are just plain dangerous. It might be okay to take a risk on many things in life, but playing loose and free on the road is just silly.

I’ve got this!

Kiwis tend to feel like they’re able todo things others can’t. It comes from a long history of having a small population, and thus we get used to doing the work of others to get things done. But on the road, it can lead to a bit of a ‘I’ve been driving for years and know what I’m doing’ attitude. ‘It’s the guy in the campervan I’m stuck behind that’s the problem.’ Or ‘Others may not be able to drive and talk on the phone at the same time, but multitasking is easy when you know what you’re doing!’ Of course, research shows that we can’t multitask, we can only switch between tasks quickly - and perform them all poorly. And on the road, performing poorly could easily mean death.  

I’m tough, I’ll be fine.

Shorts in the middle of winter? No problem! Injury while playing sport? Just keep going! But this stiff upper lip attitude is getting us into trouble behind the wheel. How? When we’re too tired to keep driving, when we’ve had too much to drink to be safe, and when our emotional state is affecting our concentration we just keep going. It actually takes more strength to drive safely and well than it does to blunder through and get in trouble. Knowing how you’re feeling and whether you’re okay to drive – that’s a much better way of being the hero.  

So now you’re aware of how our Kiwi culture might be affecting our on-road attitudes, what could you do to make better choices when you’re driving?

References
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