Seeing red: Auckland Transport urges drivers against running red lights

Auckland Transport and Work Communications are launching a new campaign encouraging drivers to simmer down and take care at traffic lights. 

Based on the tagline ‘Don’t let red lights bring out the worst in you’, the campaign features a 20-second video that shows a driver’s eyes morphing in the colour of traffic lights. When the eyes turn red, the screen shifts to a younger pair of eyes on a child, which startles the driver whose eyes suddenly open wide, while the child—fearing the worst—closes his eye shuts.

The inspiration for the campaign is based on the idea that people ‘see red’ when they approach traffic lights, with many seeming to undergo a personality change and blasting through red lights without considering the consequences. This marks a change in direction from the ‘Red Means Stop’ campaign which AT has used over the past three years. 

Creative director Marco Ermerins says a red light can bring out a different side of us, including tension and anger.

“We see red…and we ‘see red’. No one wants to be wound up. No one likes to make bad decisions. No one likes that side of themselves. If we could make drivers more aware of the person they sometimes become at red lights, they would be more inclined to change how they react.”

The video will be promoted via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube from 15 May. This will be supported by outdoor bus backs and billboards at key locations across Auckland, which include the busy streets of Karangahape Road, Nelson Street and Lincoln Road.

Along with targeting Auckland’s urban areas, the campaign also has a predominant focus on Aucklanders aged 20 to 39 years, reminding them to always stop at red lights.

According to New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) Crash Analysis System data, there were 69 DSI (death and serious injury) crashes at signalised intersections due to red light running between 2012 and 2016. These crashes resulted in four deaths and 75 serious injuries. During the same period, there was a 60 percent increase in the number of DSI crashes across all Auckland urban areas.

Of these crashes, 58 percent of the drivers at fault or part fault were in the 20- to 39-year-old age group, with 93 percent of these crashes occurring on urban roads.  

Intersection safety has previously been a focus of AT’s marketing. Last year, it released a video urging drivers to take care at non-signalised intersections and “make it home” safely.  

And last month, it released a chilling campaign to make drivers aware of the dangers of distractions.

To support the current campaign, six new red light cameras will installed by June this year as part of a partnership with New Zealand Police and NZTA.

AT says these camera sites will be well signed and made obvious to all road users, and that a successful red light camera isn’t one giving out tickets as the focus is on encouraging changes in behaviour.

In 2013, the government announced its commitment to the use of red light cameras at intersections as an important road safety tool to help reduce the number of casualties at intersections. This is based on the Red Light Camera Position Paper released by the Ministry of Transport.

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