Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs have the greatest impact on our perception of public safety, according to results from a national safety perception survey conducted by insurance group IAG New Zealand.
Results from the survey which asked more than 1300 people a series of questions to gauge how safe they feel in New Zealand, revealed that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs made the most significant impact on our perception of public safety.
The second-most impactful crime on feelings of safety was assault, followed by drug dealing and then burglary*.
Martin Hunter, EGM Strategy People and Reputation at IAG New Zealand, said that the survey result was ‘a little surprising’ but likely reflected the important role of cars in the lives of many New Zealanders, along with the amount of media attention, including advertising, devoted to road safety issues.
“The impact of impaired driving on our feeling of safety and security is important for us to understand as it provides a platform from which to influence changes in driver behaviour,” Mr Hunter said.
“It is clear from the number of serious accidents and deaths on our roads that there are still many drivers who make bad choices and that these choices result in disastrous consequences for individuals, families and communities.
“The impacts go deep, influencing our overall feeling of vulnerability, so this validates efforts by authorities and other organizations such as insurers to bring about change. As an insurer we are interested in safety and doing what we can to help to reduce our customers’ vulnerability to dangerous drivers on our roads,” Mr Hunter said.
Those who took part in the questionnaire were given a list of 17 types of offences, including murder, burglary, and driving under the influence among others, and asked for each to consider a rating of one to five – with one being very little and five being very large – on how concerning each crime is*.
These results were also analysed using a specialist statistical model called a ‘Structural Equational Model’ that looks at the relationships between the various answers given by each person.
This imputes relationships between answers given by respondents to reveal a “subconscious” response to the question in the form of an “impact weight”.
Drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol were given an “impact weight” of 28 per cent, while assault, which came in second, had an impact weight of 19 per cent. Drug dealing, in third, had 16 per cent, and burglary had 14 per cent.
Another motoring offence – exceeding the speed limit – also featured highly, coming in at number seven.
According to the results, men gave driving under the influence a higher impact weight, 31 per cent, compared to women, who gave it 21 per cent.
Men (12 per cent) rated exceeding the speed limit as their fifth crime most likely to impact their perception of public safety, while women (also 12 per cent), had it as their seventh.
The survey also found that more than one in three people (33.7 per cent) in New Zealand feel the country is less safe than it was a year ago.
IAG’s online survey was sent to people who live in New Zealand through a consumer research panel and social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, Neighbourly and and Wechat.
Some 1348 responses were received from the poll, which was created by Trace Research and conducted between October 14 and 23. To ensure the representativeness of the results, demographic weightings have been applied to New Zealand citizens and permanent residents using the 2013 NZ Census’ population distribution. The margin of error is +/-3% at the 95% confidence level.
*List of offences with significant impact on people’s perception of public safety
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances: 28 per cent.
- Assault: 19 per cent.
- Drug dealing: 16 per cent.
- Burglary: 14 per cent.
- Misuse of regulated weapons: 12 per cent.
- Sexual assault: 11 per cent.
- Exceed the speed limit: 10 per cent.
- Fraudulent trade practices: 7 per cent.