Gisborne teens buck downward trend in drink driving

Messages do not appear to be getting through.

Messages do not appear to be getting through.

ANTI drink-drive messages are not getting through to Gisborne’s young people, new statistics suggest.

Latest drink-driving offence figures provided by the Ministry of Justice show while there has been an overall fall in the number of people charged and convicted of drink-driving here, nearly one teenager is convicted of driving while over the legal limit every week.

Ministry figures show 291 drink-driving charges were heard in Gisborne District Court last year — 66 fewer than the previous year — while the number of people convicted fell from 346 to 282.

Although there were falls in the number of convictions across most age groups, Gisborne, unlike the national situation, experienced a large rise in the number of under-19-year-olds convicted for breaching the zero-alcohol limit for young drivers.

That limit has been in force since 2011, but convictions for that age group, which also made up the second-highest offending group overall, rose from 39 to 50.

The only other age group where there was a rise in convictions in Gisborne was the 30-34 age bracket, which had four more convictions last year.

The 20-24 age group remained the group responsible for the largest number of convictions, 52, although that was 18 fewer than in 2015.

Students Against Dangerous Driving Charitable Trust (SADD) national manager Julie Elliotte said the statistics regarding young drivers in Gisborne were concerning, but the organisation was working to ensure the trend did not continue.

“SADD has been working with youth in New Zealand for over 30 years. During this period we’ve seen a tremendous change in both incidents of drink-driving and attitudes towards it. Public attitude has changed so much that it is no longer acceptable and generally seen as 'uncool' among our youth.

Long way from winning

“Unfortunately, as significant as the change has been, it's still an issue and we are a long way from winning the battle.

“It's very concerning to see any drivers being caught drinking and driving and, while we are only seeing an increase in drink-driving and youth in one year, it's not a trend that SADD would like to see continue.”

The SADD road safety charity operates in approximately 75 percent of NZ secondary schools, including Gisborne Boys’ High School, Gisborne Girls’ High School and Campion College.

“These young leaders are committed to effecting change in their communities.”

Alice Kibble, from Gisborne Girls’ High School, is leading the charge here as part of the national leadership programme with SADD.

One way young people were helping was by raising awareness of SADD in schools and the wider community, she said.

“Students like myself are working towards this goal, along with a police effort in targeting youth offending while driving.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams said nationally, the number of convictions among people under 25 had dropped 60 percent since 2009.

“We have seen a drop in the number of people facing drink-driving charges every year since 2009, but there is still more to do.

“Alcohol is still a major factor in fatal car crashes. Research shows that at 250 micrograms per litre of breath, the current legal limit for drivers aged 20 and older, you are still twice as likely to have a crash as a driver with zero blood alcohol.”

Nationally, last year there were 311 fewer drink-drive convictions overall. The ministry’s figures do not take into account those issued with 4200 infringement notices and fines for driving while between the lower limit range of between 251mcg and 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, which was implemented in December 2014.

Offences resulting in deaths are also not included.

ANTI drink-drive messages are not getting through to Gisborne’s young people, new statistics suggest.

Latest drink-driving offence figures provided by the Ministry of Justice show while there has been an overall fall in the number of people charged and convicted of drink-driving here, nearly one teenager is convicted of driving while over the legal limit every week.

Ministry figures show 291 drink-driving charges were heard in Gisborne District Court last year — 66 fewer than the previous year — while the number of people convicted fell from 346 to 282.

Although there were falls in the number of convictions across most age groups, Gisborne, unlike the national situation, experienced a large rise in the number of under-19-year-olds convicted for breaching the zero-alcohol limit for young drivers.

That limit has been in force since 2011, but convictions for that age group, which also made up the second-highest offending group overall, rose from 39 to 50.

The only other age group where there was a rise in convictions in Gisborne was the 30-34 age bracket, which had four more convictions last year.

The 20-24 age group remained the group responsible for the largest number of convictions, 52, although that was 18 fewer than in 2015.

Students Against Dangerous Driving Charitable Trust (SADD) national manager Julie Elliotte said the statistics regarding young drivers in Gisborne were concerning, but the organisation was working to ensure the trend did not continue.

“SADD has been working with youth in New Zealand for over 30 years. During this period we’ve seen a tremendous change in both incidents of drink-driving and attitudes towards it. Public attitude has changed so much that it is no longer acceptable and generally seen as 'uncool' among our youth.

Long way from winning

“Unfortunately, as significant as the change has been, it's still an issue and we are a long way from winning the battle.

“It's very concerning to see any drivers being caught drinking and driving and, while we are only seeing an increase in drink-driving and youth in one year, it's not a trend that SADD would like to see continue.”

The SADD road safety charity operates in approximately 75 percent of NZ secondary schools, including Gisborne Boys’ High School, Gisborne Girls’ High School and Campion College.

“These young leaders are committed to effecting change in their communities.”

Alice Kibble, from Gisborne Girls’ High School, is leading the charge here as part of the national leadership programme with SADD.

One way young people were helping was by raising awareness of SADD in schools and the wider community, she said.

“Students like myself are working towards this goal, along with a police effort in targeting youth offending while driving.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams said nationally, the number of convictions among people under 25 had dropped 60 percent since 2009.

“We have seen a drop in the number of people facing drink-driving charges every year since 2009, but there is still more to do.

“Alcohol is still a major factor in fatal car crashes. Research shows that at 250 micrograms per litre of breath, the current legal limit for drivers aged 20 and older, you are still twice as likely to have a crash as a driver with zero blood alcohol.”

Nationally, last year there were 311 fewer drink-drive convictions overall. The ministry’s figures do not take into account those issued with 4200 infringement notices and fines for driving while between the lower limit range of between 251mcg and 400mcg of alcohol per litre of breath, which was implemented in December 2014.

Offences resulting in deaths are also not included.

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