Driver behaviour decline
PERTH DRIVERS using emergency lanes to jump traffic jams, motorists shaving while behind the wheel, and couples in the middle of a heated argument; these are just a few of the things spotted by RAC’s roadside assistance patrollers during their time helping some of the State’s most vulnerable road users.
The findings were revealed by the RAC after a survey of its roadside patrollers to discover exactly what they encounter on WA roads.
Last year RAC came to the aid of more than 400,000 Western Australians. RAC general manager Mark Weller said the company’s patrol team were uniquely placed to offer insight into issues faced on WA roads, given the amount of time using them.
The results make for some interesting reading.
Unsurprisingly, 96 per cent of those surveyed said traffic congestion was on the rise.
More than 43 per cent of patrols said WA roads had declined in quality, and up to half say damaged tyres were the most frequent type of problem, a result linked to the amount of debris on our roads.
Twenty per cent experience a near miss each week, with the close calls attributed to motorists not slowing down near a traffic incident or impatient drivers using emergency stopping lanes to avoid congestion.
Close to all patrols said they had noticed an increase in unsafe driving behaviours, which include speeding, running red lights, road rage and tailgating.
People using mobile phones while behind the wheel was the most common of the unsafe habits spotted, with 95 per cent of patrols saying they had seen it.
Mr Weller said he was not surprised by the results.
“We had suspected that our patrols have seen and experienced a great number of things given they spend so much time driving around,” he said.
“The survey has confirmed for us that inattention and bad driver behaviour such as road rage and tailgating have become much more of an issue recently.
“From a safety perspective the survey really brought home the fact that working at the side of the road at breakdowns has become increasingly more dangerous every day.
He urged motorists to slow down and move over in those situations.
“In the last five years I would have to say congestion, which during peak hour impacts significantly on how long it takes us to rescue our members.”
“For me the top three issues are driver inattention – I see people eating their breakfast in their lap, putting on make-up or texting while driving - congestion and driver attitudes.
“One time I received my job notification and it said 'Parrot stuck under car dash'. I thought to myself 'Is this a joke?' And then I received a call, it was real. The member had rescued an injured parrot from the grille of their car, placed it on the front passenger seat and drove it to the vet. However during the car ride the parrot came to, and flew up under the dashboard.”
Senior patrol officer Jason Kovacavich. Q and A with roadside assistance patroller Peter Williams (South metro and Southern Gazette area).
How many years have you been with the RAC?
How have you seen WA roads change in your time with roadside assistance?
In your opinion, what are the top three issues associated with WA roads?
What is the weirdest or most unusual thing you've seen on the road?