Jan 17, 2010

Road Safety: Motorists Must Heed the Warnings

Road Safety: Motorists Must Heed the Warnings

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

January 17 2010

One of the biggest obstacles to far fewer deaths on the nation’s roads appears to be motorists themselves, with a new survey confirming that many of them are still engaging in risky behaviour such as speeding, driving under the influence, driving distracted and driving while tired.

Release of the survey is a timely reminder to all those about to return home from their summer holidays to take their time and focus on arriving safely.

Conducted by the Social Research Centre, the annual survey of 1,615 Australians found that while most are well informed about road safety matters and support the efforts of police to catch and punish those that break the law, the personal conduct of most leaves a lot to be desired.

According to the Survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety (2009):

  • Almost two-thirds of respondents (61 per cent) say they use their mobile phone while driving, despite a high level of awareness (87 per cent) that doing so increases their chances of being involved in crashes;
  • One in four respondents (25 per cent) consider it acceptable to speed ‘if you are driving safely’;
  • 16 per cent of respondents had fallen asleep at the wheel, with a disturbingly large proportion of these (43 per cent) having done so more than once;
  • 6 per cent of respondents – and 11 per cent of those younger than 25 – ‘always, nearly always or mostly’ drive at least 10 km/h over the speed limit;
  • 4 per cent of respondents – or 1 in 25 – thought it was likely they had driven while over the blood alcohol limit at least once within the past 12 months.

Unfortunately, these results are similar to those reported in last year’s survey.

On a positive note, the survey found widespread support for existing traffic laws and law enforcement practices, including near universal approval of random breath testing (98 per cent). Indeed, more than one in four respondents (27 per cent) want even harsher punishments imposed on those caught speeding.