2020 Road Safety Month | Regional West Australian drivers wrongly believe rural roads are safer

The Australian Road Safety Foundation found speed was the number one dangerous driving behaviour that all West Australian drivers were prepared to risk on rural roads more than city streets. Image by Shutterstock.
The Australian Road Safety Foundation found speed was the number one dangerous driving behaviour that all West Australian drivers were prepared to risk on rural roads more than city streets. Image by Shutterstock.

The Australian Road Safety Foundation has launched an initiative targeting high-risk rural roads

With rural road fatalities making up two thirds of last year's national road toll, new research has looked under the bonnet at dangerous driver behaviour and the importance of further education to save precious lives.

The research revealed that 78 per cent of city and regional drivers admitted to risky driver behaviour generally, while one in five confessed to being more likely to break a road rule in rural areas.

Worryingly, speed is the number one dangerous driving act that all Australians are prepared to risk on rural roads, while speed, fatigue and drunk driving are the top behaviours found to most likely impact rural drivers.

Despite smaller population numbers, rural road fatalities make up two thirds of the annual death count.

When it came to improving city or regional roads, 62 per cent of West Australian drivers believed that a change in attitudes and behaviours would have a greater impact in cities, compared to 32 per cent in regional areas.

This is despite the fact that 78 per cent of both metro and regional drivers admitted to dangerous driving behaviour generally, while regional drivers were much more likely than their city counterparts to break a road rule in rural areas.

Speed, distraction and fatigue are the top three dangerous driving behaviours that were more likely to impact rural West Australian drivers than Perth drivers.

However, it's also dangers beyond just the driver's seat creating added risk in rural areas. In fact, rural West Australian residents were also more likely to ride bicycles and scooters after a few alcoholic drinks.

Dangerous road behaviours occur less frequently in rural areas compared to city streets yet still more fatalities happen in regional areas.

This goes to show that even one dangerous choice can have grave consequences.

Surprisingly, it's actually more regional West Australian drivers who wrongly believe that rural roads were safer than city streets and motorways, compared to their city counterparts.

Perth drivers believed it was fatigue that created the greatest risk on rural roads, whereas regional drivers were most likely to recognise the impact of increased hazards (fallen branches, wildlife etc).

Fatigue was the key reason for increasing dangerous behaviour on rural roads - and was most prevalent among the state's metro drivers.

On rural West Australian roads, it was local drivers who were more aware of their behaviour causing harm to others, whereas Perth drivers were more likely to only be concerned with doing harm to themselves.

Speed was the number one dangerous driving behaviour that all West Australian drivers were prepared to risk on rural roads more than city streets.

Australian Road Safety Foundation chief executive Russell White said every Australian driver, whether city or regional based, must take ownership of their role in reducing the rural road toll.

"Despite smaller population numbers, 835 people tragically lost their lives on regional roads last year, which shows that just one dangerous choice can have dire consequences," he said.

"When it came to reasons for increasing risky behaviour on rural roads, not getting caught was the most common response, and it was most prevalent among regional drivers.

"We will continue to see an unnecessary loss of life in rural communities until we acknowledge that all road users have a personal responsibility to ensure safety is front of mind when behind the wheel."

The ARSF research also highlighted the disparity in attitudes and behaviours between rural and city drivers.

The data revealed that metro drivers not only wrongly believed that rural roads were safer than city streets and motorways, but almost half incorrectly claimed that more road fatalities occurred in city areas.

Running from August 1 to 31, Rural Road Safety Month is a community-based awareness initiative that calls on everyday road users to jump in the driver's seat of regional road safety.

This story Regional West Australian drivers wrongly believe rural roads are safer first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.