What was ‘Coffee Brake’ all about?

Driver fatigue is a serious problem on New Zealand roads especially occurring on the State Highway network.

The Northland Regional Council together with RoadSafe Northland through the Road Safety Action Planning process identified fatigue as a significant influence on the fatal and serious crash incidents on Northland roads especially the State Highway network.

‘Coffee Brake’ evolved as an innovative road safety initiative targeting fatigued drivers on Northland roads. It is based on an Australian initiative of the Northern Territory Government – however with a number of modifications made to suit the Northland situation. Coffee Brake complemented the 8-10 road side ‘Fatigue Stops’ managed by the Northland Road Safety Association and Far North REAP that are held throughout the year during peak holiday periods in the Whangarei & Far North districts.

Driving while fatigued occurs all year round and not just restricted to peak holiday periods, so the ‘Coffee Brake’ initiative was a natural extension supporting fatigue driver interventions. Coffee Brake sadly was not sustainable. It helped raise awareness while highlighting the risks to drivers travelling long distances without breaks, tired and the need for rest breaks to manage the fatigue and tiredness.

Fatigue is a problem for all drivers on Northland roads. Crash Analysis System (CAS) data indicates approximately 14% of road crashes are fatigue related in Northland.

How ddid it work?

New Zealand has a very strong and growing ‘coffee culture’. The project involved the redemption of ‘Coffee Brake Vouchers’ for the use by ‘drivers only’ to encourage and reward them to stop, sit down and have a break and a free coffee.

Vouchers enabled them to have a free sit down cup of coffee during their rest break from driving and were obtained from – Northland i-Sites, including the Visitor Information Centre Dargaville & Kauri Coast,  Council Receptions & Customer Service areas.

In addition some Car & Campervan rental firms, long haul trucking firms, together with Police and other partners helped circulate the vouchers and identify potential recipients. The vouchers are redeemed at any of the participating Cafés. The coffee must be consumed on the premises.

Project partners

Northland Hospitality (Max) was a key hospitality sector partner and helped identify coffee and milk sponsors for the Coffee Brake project. Those popular coffee suppliers included – Altura, Allpress, Atomic, Jungle, Bica, Bruno Rossi,Chiasso, Tiger Mountain and Coffee Supreme. Meadow Fresh (Nicky), Anchor (Luke & Corinne) and Fresha Valley (Paul) were supplying milk product.

Those sponsors had been hugely supportive and without their generosity this project would never have taken place. It was reviewed each year to ensure that there was on-going support and to fine tune aspects of it to further improve it.

Participating cafés

Over the years a number of Café’s throughout Northland participated. They were:

  • La Nonna Italian Bakery, Kaiwaka
  • Village Café, Paparoa
  • ElleCee Café & Bar, Ruawai
  • Two Fish Café, Waipu Cove
  • The Office, Maungatapere
  • Lili’s Cafe, Whakapara
  • Morrells Café, Waimamaku
  • The Coffee Hut, Kawakawa Junction
  • Palm Tree Café, Puketona Junction
  • They were strategically located along high volume  and high fatigue risk Northland roads identified through the Crash Analysis System (CAS) and were easily accessed with good parking.

The initiative operated till 30th June 2015. This road safety fatigue initiative was only made possible through the on-going generous sponsor support and motivated café support. Various partner websites also helped promote this driver fatigue intervention and road safety initiative.