Per­ils lurk on coun­try road


ONE in five Aus­tralians ad­mits to speed­ing along coun­try roads be­cause they know the area, ac­cord­ing to an exclusive pre­view of the 16th an­nual AAMI Crash In­dex to be re­leased next week.

While three out of ev­ery five fa­tal road crashes in Aus­tralia oc­cur on ru­ral roads and 68 per cent of these are a sin­gle-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents, only 40 per cent of mo­torists say they drive un­der the speed limit when in coun­try ar­eas.

The worst were in Western Aus­tralia where only 34 per cent claim they drive un­der the speed limit, while the safest are in Tas­ma­nia where 54 per cent drive un­der the ru­ral speed lim­its.

Al­most a quar­ter of all driv­ers be­lieve city driv­ers are to blame for the ru­ral road toll, not lo­cals.

One of Aus­tralia’s fore­most trauma doc­tors has called for all driv­ers in coun­try ar­eas to pay more at­ten­tion.

Pro­fes­sor Rus­sell Gruen, head of the National Trauma Re­search In­sti­tute says it’s com­mon for driv­ers on re­gional roads to travel faster and longer than city driv­ers.

‘‘Be­cause re­gional driv­ers are of­ten trav­el­ling faster, the im­pact of any col­li­sion is greater and in­juries are more se­vere,’’ he says.

‘‘They of­ten have to wait longer for para­medic and hos­pi­tal in­ter­ven­tion, and crit­i­cal in­juries are there­fore left un­treated longer.’’

Prof Gruen says the haz­ards in the city are ex­pected such as cy­clists, buses, chil­dren, trams and pedes­tri­ans while oth­ers, like school zones, are sign­posted. He says that ru­ral haz­ards can be un­pre­dictable.

Thank­fully, 78 per cent of Aussie driv­ers pay more at­ten­tion when driv­ing on ru- ral roads, par­tic­u­larly peo­ple who live in cap­i­tal cities, ac­cord­ing to the AAMI Crash In­dex.

Women are more likely than men (81 and 75 per cent re­spec­tively) to pay at­ten­tion to their driv­ing in the coun­try and are more likely (36 per cent) to limit dis­trac­tions than men (29 per cent).

Prof Gruen says driv­ers should be more alert to dan- gers on ru­ral roads than in the city and says fa­tigue is a key con­tribut­ing fac­tor in ru­ral sin­gle-car col­li­sions.

‘‘Driv­ers who spend time on re­gional roads should avoid be­com­ing a statis­tic by be­ing sen­si­ble about speed, ex­pect­ing the un­ex­pected and, of course, avoid­ing al­co­hol and drugs,’’ he says.

The AAMI Crash In­dex online sur­vey was con­ducted by Newspoll Mar­ket & So­cial Re­search which polled 3740 Aus­tralian driv­ers, 18 and ol- der, across all states ter­ri­to­ries this year.

The In­dex will also cover

and driver at­ti­tudes to en­vi­ron­men­tal mo­tor­ing, speed, dis­trac­tions and road rage.

NT po­lice con­duct a ru­ral area RBT, above, and Ter­ri­tory ru­ral high­ways present driv­ing chal­lenges not seen in other parts of Aus­tralia, be­low

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