Driv­ers take the blame

Driver er­ror causes more ac­ci­dents than fa­tigue, speed and al­co­hol com­bined, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AUS­TRALIANS have con­fessed to a wide range of danger­ous deeds, from speed­ing to drink driv­ing in a sur­vey of driv­ing be­hav­iour.

But most agree on one thing — driver er­ror is the big­gest cause of crashes.

Al­most half of all crashes are put down to driver er­ror in the 2008 AAMI Crash In­dex, the 14th time Aus­tralians have been polled on a wide range of motoring is­sues.

‘‘Ab­sent-mind­ed­ness is a fac­tor in 44 per cent of all car col­li­sions, with driv­ers much more likely to crash due to their own inat­ten­tion than from speed­ing, fa­tigue and al­co­hol com­bined,’’ AAMI’s pub­lic af­fairs man­ager, Ge­off Hughes, says.

Though speed, fa­tigue and al­co­hol are fac­tors in 37 per cent of car crashes, AAMI’s re­search shows inat­ten­tion is the main rea­son driv­ers crash into an­other ve­hi­cle or sta­tion­ary ob­ject.

The sur­vey re­veals 81 per cent of driv­ers have been in­volved in a crash, with AAMI records show­ing the crash rate in the past year was the high­est since 2001.

Con­sult­ing psy­chol­o­gist John Cheetham says the re­sults re­flect Aus­tralia’s driv­ing cul­ture.

‘‘The lifestyles of work­ing pro­fes­sion­als, stay-at-home par­ents and even secondary and ter­tiary stu­dents, is such that when they get in their car they have a ten­dency to go into au­topi­lot, leav­ing them free to con­cen­trate on ev­ery­thing else that is hap­pen­ing in their lives when they should be think­ing about their driv­ing,’’ Cheetham says.

‘‘To im­prove their con­cen­tra­tion and pre­vent avoid­able crashes, driv- ers must use good judg­ment and not drive when their minds are highly fo­cused on work or so­cial is­sues.’’

The sur­vey shows that al­most half of driv­ers who have had their li­cence can­celled or sus­pended say it was be­cause of speed­ing. And 40 per cent lost their li­cence af­ter drink driv­ing.

‘‘This sort of will­ing­ness to get be­hind the wheel, when all the signs say you shouldn’t, sug­gests some driv­ers are ei­ther ig­no­rant of the law, or just plain stupid,’’ Hughes says.

At fault: driver inat­ten­tion is re­spon­si­ble for 44 per cent of all car crashes, ac­cord­ing ot a new sur­vey.

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