Real crash survivors are faces of the NZ Transport Agency‘s latest seatbelt campaign

4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 7, 2019

Every year, about 90 Kiwis die in motor-vehicle crashes around New Zealand where they weren‘t wearing a seatbelt. Faced with an audience that doesn‘t see the point of wearing them, the NZ Transport Agency had to shift the perception of seatbelts from an optional accessory to a life-saving necessity.

Kiwi men needed proof that was credible and authentic, and there‘s no better proof than those who wouldn‘t be here without a seatbelt.

The campaign started with a public call to find real Kiwi men with their own stories of survival, thanks to a seatbelt. Hundreds responded, and 10 were chosen to step in front of the camera to have their real injuries recreated and their stories shared.

Their injuries vary, but all 10 are united by the mark of their seatbelt: a short-term physical bruise, or sometimes scar, that has had a long-lasting impact on their lives. A physical reminder they made the right call to wear a seatbelt and survived because of it.

To ensure their injuries were recreated as accurately as possible, the survivors provided personal photos taken in the days after their crashes to use a reference. The special effects make-up team also worked closely with Dr Natasha McKay, an emergency medicine specialist, who lent her expertise to the campaign.

“A seatbelt really does leave a mark like this,” says McKay. “They will save your life, but they will leave a mark to show how they‘ve done it.”

The images are displayed on billboards near car parks of bars and pubs in towns around New Zealand, in particular in the areas where the featured survivors live. Content recreating the injuries can also be found across social media, and in cinemas.

NZTA aims to share more real stories of survival. If a seatbelt has helped you survive and you want to share your story, head to

Liam Bethell

Survived 08.08.17

Liam was T-boned by a truck 200m from home, he broke most of his ribs, three discs in his back, and had a brain bleed that put him in a coma for 10 days. He woke up the day before his daughter was born. His seatbelt saved his life.

Rick Haira

Survived 04.11.04

Rick was heading out to his new apprenticeship just outside of Hastings. Driving over the tracks, his ute was clipped by a train. It spun him out of control into a transformer box. His seatbelt kept him from being thrown from the vehicle.

Dylan Chirnside

Survived 15.08.17

Dylan was T-boned by another vehicle a few kilometres from his house. Along with a brain injury, he broke one of the major bones that connects the head to the spine. His seatbelt saved his life. In a year and a half, he‘s made a full recovery.