Live theatre ad a first for road safety campaign


For the first time in New Zealand actors will be performing a live on-stage safe driving advertisement to raise awareness about the risks of driver fatigue, as part of the NZ Transport Agency road safety campaign.

In a New Zealand first actors at Wellington’s Downstage Theatre will be performing an on-stage safe driving advertisement to raise awareness about the risks of driver fatigue.

The advertisement will be performed every night before the performance of ‘The December Brother’ from Saturday 14 August till Saturday 11 September. This is the first time an advertisement has been introduced to live theatre in New Zealand – commonly thought of as the last bastion of commercial-free arts.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) commissioned the ad in an attempt to find a new way to deliver a difficult message.

“Raising awareness about the risks of driver fatigue and changing people’s behaviour is a huge challenge,” said NZTA Advertising Manager Rachel Prince. “Almost everyone knows at some level that driving while tired is dangerous, yet because it doesn’t have the same stigma attached to it as drink-driving or speeding, many people still do it.”

Driver fatigue contributes to at least 12% of fatal motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand. In 2008, 52 people died and 192 people were seriously injured in fatigue-related crashes.

The live ad was designed in conjunction with New Zealand theatre director and playwright, Tim Spite. The performance dramatises the common symptoms of tiredness and the consequences of driving when tired. 

Ms Prince said placing an advertisement in the theatre was a new way of reaching a captive audience of drivers at risk of driving tired – unlike speed and alcohol-related crashes, the bulk of people injured in fatigue-related crashes are aged over 25.

“This is a completely new way to reach people - one that people won’t expect and can’t ignore. “Theatre has a natural ability to challenge views, provoke discussion and move people emotionally. We also expect the message will spread well beyond the theatre by word of mouth,” she said.

The live ad is a new initiative in the ongoing NZTA/NZ Police campaign to raise awareness of the risks of fatigue and change driver behaviour.

The NZTA encourages drivers to plan ahead for  their journeys to minimise the risks of fatigue:

  • Sleep before you drive
  • Take regular breaks
  • Share the driving.