A 'magic' cross-regional road safety initiative has kicked off.
Kia Magic players left the netball court and headed to the roadside recently to promote the 'drive sober' message. The 2012 ANZ Championship-winning side has thrown its support behind the new three-year campaign to reduce drink-driving crashes across the 'Magic zone' in Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne.
Kia Magic chief executive Tim Hamilton says discussions with Waikato road safety partners first started two years ago to see if there was an opportunity to partner on community based initiatives.
"We are delighted to have found a cause that really resonates with our local netball community, which spans from Gisborne to the Waikato, and also reaches across the country.
"The Drive Sober campaign has at its heart a message to ask Kiwi drivers to refrain from drinking and driving. By doing so, they are protecting their friends and family from the tragedy of road crashes.
"We feel passionate about the message and the cause and we're asking our fans to lead the charge. With our new sponsor Kia, it seems even more important to communicate positive driving-related messages."
Waikato regional councillor Paula Southgate says this partnership provides us with a real opportunity to use strong role models to influence whole families and communities, and reduce the risk of people unnecessarily dying on our roads as a result of drink driving.
"The team has a huge fan base which crosses generations, gender and culture. They are much admired for their hard work, discipline and good team play," says Cr Southgate.
"Even at this level the game is clearly connected to its community netball roots. Fans can relate to the players and this makes the Kia Magic team the ideal role models for a campaign which asks everyday people to do the right thing."
As well as being promoted by the players, home game volunteers in the Waikato, Tauranga and Rotorua will also encourage fans to protect their whanau by driving sober.
"Protecting your whanau is an important part of the message, because when you're the driver, you are responsible for the lives of everyone in the car with you," says Cr Southgate.
Waikato road policing manager, inspector Marcus Lynam, says: "Across the region a significant number of alcohol-impaired parents are being apprehended, often with their children in the car.
"This is of huge concern to us. Alcohol and driving are a lethal mix and it's disappointing to see so many people continuing to drink and drive.
"We want to make sure that drivers understand the importance of driving sober in order to protect themselves and their whanau from serious harm.
"The message is pretty simple - drinking and driving should never be mixed, so if you're doing one, don't do the other."
For the campaign's launch, players spoke with drivers and passengers stopped by police at roadside checkpoints in Hamilton and Tauranga. Their message - drive sober to protect your whanau.
Some of the drivers who came through the checkpoint with zero alcohol in their system were rewarded with signed promotional cards.
The 'Drive Sober' campaign involves multiple stakeholders, including Kia Magic, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils, Gisborne District Council, local authorities, New Zealand Police, the NZ Transport Agency, ACC and Waikato District Health Board.
For more information, visit www.reducetherisk.co.nz.