A recent fatal crash on the NSW North Coast is another grim reminder of the high regional road toll. Photo: Adam Hourigan
A recent fatal crash on the NSW North Coast is another grim reminder of the high regional road toll. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Blame drivers, not road for regional death toll

WITH rural road fatalities making up two thirds of last year’s national road toll, new research released by the Australian Road Safety Foundation has revealed a staggering 78 per cent of city and regional drivers admit to risky driver behaviour generally, while one in five confess to being more likely to break a road rule in rural areas.

The research shows speed is the number one dangerous driving act that 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.

However, there are dangers beyond the driver’s seat that are creating added risk in rural areas with regional residents more likely to ride bicycles and scooters without a helmet, as well as ride them after a few drinks.

ARSF founder and CEO 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,” Mr White 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.

“The research also tells us that on rural roads, local drivers are more cognisant of their behaviour causing harm to others, whereas metro drivers are more likely to only be concerned with doing harm to themselves.

“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 research showed that NSW drivers believe that a change in attitudes would have a greater impact in cities (52 per cent) but nost as much in regional areas (38 per cent)

The data reveals that metro drivers not only wrongly believe that rural roads are safer than city streets and motorways, but almost half incorrectly claimed that more road fatalities occur 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.

The ARSF research was conducted by a third-party research company, Pure Profile, and was an online survey of more than 1,000 licenced Australians, nationally representative by gender, age and location.

For more information or to find out how to get involved, visit arsf.com.au.

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