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Drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol feared by New Zealanders

Drunk or drugged motorists drive the most fear into Kiwi hearts, a safety report has revealed.

The survey also found that more than one in three people in New Zealand feel the country is less safe than it was a year ago.

Drivers under the influence had 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.

The survey asked more than 1300 people a series of questions to gauge how safe they feel in New Zealand. Driving under the influence came out on top of our perception of public safety.

This was followed by fear of assault, drug dealing and then burglary.

IAG spokesman Martin Hunter found the survey's top result "surprising".

He thought it reflected the important role of cars in the lives of New Zealanders, along with the amount of media attention devoted to road safety issues. He said Kiwis' fear of impaired driving can help to influence changes in driver behaviour.

"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.

"The impacts go deep, influencing our overall feeling of vulnerability, so this validates efforts by authorities and other organisations such as insurers to bring about change."

Those who took part in the questionnaire were given a list of 17 types of offences, including murder, burglary, and driving under the influence. They were to rate them out of five on how concerning the crime was.

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 with women, who gave it 21 per cent.

The survey

The 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 Dr Andrew Zhu at 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.

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