If you are a New Zealand road safety police officer, you could be excused for becoming debilitatingly cynical.

Q) How do you tell a road safety cop from a non-road safety cop?

A) Road safety cops have flat, bloodied foreheads from repeatedly banging them against brick walls.

Time and time again, the same messages are repeated through the media, through advertising, through just about any public channel that might be useful.

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Wear a seatbelt.

Don't drink/drug and drive.

Don't speed.

Don't drive if you are tired.

And time and time again, these messages are ignored.

Road safety police must think people are stupid, to the point where surely they wonder why on earth they do what they do.

Perhaps that is why there is a national shortage of road safety cops - they can only take the stupidity and carnage for so long before they decide they need more job satisfaction.

It's a shame because most of the road safety cops that I have met in my time as a journalist, they were what we know in NZ as "good bastards".

Road safety campaigners tend to be more optimistic, by the way.

But then, they are removed, a few steps back from the reality of handing out tickets for the same repeated offences, or the morbid repetition of fatal or serious injury crashes.

They are delivering the message - not cleaning up the fatal ignorance of the great unwashed.

So what do we do?

Local road safety campaigners - including a retired police inspector - believe we need to get more graphic with our messages.

Maybe we do.

And maybe somehow road safety needs to be part of our school curriculum - so that we somehow create our habits early in life.

Who knows what the answer is? Right now, no one.

But next time you get stopped by a road safety cop for breaking the law, if they are professional, and simply doing their job, consider thanking them.

Because it can be a thankless job.