Numbers game: NZTA's latest ad promotes the go-slow, but holiday speed blitz questioned

  • Advertising
  • January 13, 2015
  • Ben Fahy
Numbers game: NZTA's latest ad promotes the go-slow, but holiday speed blitz questioned

The average speed of Kiwi drivers has come down considerably over the years. But NZTA and Clemenger BBDO released a new campaign early this year in an effort to drop those numbers even further.  

Just like the ongoing Drive Social campaign, 'Numbers' also shows that your driving can affect others—and, like Mistakes, one of the most-awarded ads of last year, that other people's actions can impact on you, even if you think you're a good driver. NZTA says most road users recognise the risks of driving at speed and support police enforcement of the speed limits (the YouTube commentors discussing this new campaign and outspoken road safety critic Clive Matthew Wilson are a different story, however), but they don't always recognise speeding in their own driving. 

As the website explains: "This campaign targets competent drivers aged between 20-49 years who drive regularly. These people drive 'comfortably' fast; typically a bit faster than the posted speed limit or other traffic. But they don't consider it to be wrong or anti-social because it's not really 'speeding' in their minds. They feel competent and in control of their vehicle, but they do care about what other people think of their driving—they want to be seen as a good driver and want to feel good when driving."

While NZTA's recent focus has been on driving under the influence, with campaigns around drink driving (Legend and Local Legends) and drug driving (Shopkeepers, Blazed and Tinnyvision), excessive speed is a contributing factor in 20 percent of all fatal and serious injury crashes on New Zealand roads (it has run a series of radio ads on speed in recent years, such as Kiddie Crash, Like Father Like Son and You are Being Watched). 

"It continues to be a huge public health and road safety issue. Each year, around 80 people are killed and 400 are seriously injured in speed-related crashes." 

That was brought into sharp focus this holiday season, with 17 people dying on the roads. That was more than double the 2013-14 toll of seven. But, over the long term, the numbers are going in the right direction, and the road toll has decreased from a peak of 795 in 1987 to 253 in 2013. 

According to the Herald, Police Minister Michael Woodhouse "admitted he had concerns over the summer speed enforcement message before it went public, saying it was confusing and ambiguous" and he has ordered an official review into the 'Reach the Beach' campaign and ensuing 'speed blitz'. Unlike previous years, there was no tolerance on speeding. And, as a Police release said: "Our message to drivers is simple: the numbers in the red circles on the side of the road are the maximum speed you can travel safely in good driving conditions. Police officers have the discretion to stop and ticket people driving at any speed over the limit every day of the year. And so we should, because New Zealand has seen that when people travel at safe speeds, our roads are safer and calmer for all." 

Rachel Prince, a principal advisor at NZTA, told NZ Marketing that "advertising is a cog in a big machine," with better roads, better vehicle technology and better enforcement playing major roles in decreasing the road toll and average speeds (some might argue congestion in the major cities has also played a part). And she pointed to a study that showed that for every $1 spent on road safety advertising—without any enforcement measures—it saved the country $4 in "social costs". 

Clemenger BBDO's executive creative director Philip Andrew said: "When we started working on NZTA, or LTSA as it was known then, the average mean speed if you were categorised as a speeder was 120kmh. Now it’s under the tolerance, around 107-109kmh. That progress hasn’t been made because of engineering or car safety technology. That’s happening because of lobbying and the work we’ve done to get people to accept that there are other people on the road." 

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