Road safety needs to be a priority, experts say

ON CALL: Liam McKay and Andrew Shouksmith are ready to assist drivers in accidents on the road.
ON CALL: Liam McKay and Andrew Shouksmith are ready to assist drivers in accidents on the road.

Two public surveys focusing on the states’ road habits have been released, and South Australians still need to lift their game when it comes to road safety.

In the Safe Driving Report 2017 released by finder.com.au, South Australians were found to be some of the safest drivers in the country.

But even two out of three drivers admitted that they’d engaged in risky behaviour, with eating (47%), texting (21%) and smoking (21%) being the biggest bad habits.

Alarmingly, other risky activities drivers admitted to included taking their eyes off the road to deal with children; microsleeping; applying makeup; reading a book; and one in seven drivers has operated the wheel with their knees.

Rob Forgan, the Regional Community Road Safety Officer for the Limestone Coast, believes that there is a popular myth people believe in when it comes to risk-taking on our roads.

“There is a misconception held by many that road safety is a problem for younger drivers,” he said.

“When you look at the data for last year, clearly this isn’t so.  It indicates that we have more mature drivers making some sort of mistake, leading to a needless fatality or life changing crash injury.

“Every single driver must take responsibility for their own actions and not take the view that crashes are things that happen to someone else, especially younger and inexperienced drivers.”

Of the six fatalities in the South East, explained Mr Forgan, four were over 40 - none were under 25. 

Of the 33 serious crash injuries, 21 were over 40 years of age, and only 5 were under the age of 25.

Mr Forgan’s research comes from findings released by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, who released their 2017 Road Fatalities and Serious Injuries In South Australia report on December 31.

“Here in South Australia we recorded an alarming spike in road deaths in 2017, with 101 lives lost compared to 86 in 2016,” Mr Forgan said.

Last year 37% of drivers and passengers killed on the road were not wearing seat belts, a trend that Mr Forgan has labelled “disturbing”.

“Despite the best efforts in enforcement and education by SAPOL and those of the Motor Accident Commission (MAC), we don’t seem to be getting the message across and through,” he said.

Speed is another thing which contributes to the death toll, and remains a problem in our region, and our state.

“Everyone knows that speed at the point of impact is critical to survival, it often determines life or death, fatalities or the seriousness of injury,” said Mr Forgan.

“Many lives could have been saved last year if people had worn seatbelts and stayed within speed limits.

“If anyone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle or rides a motorbike and drives in a reckless manner, that is and should be deemed inexcusable in any community.”

In regional areas, the most common fatal crashes were single vehicle, with 59% of drivers dying from their vehicle rolling over, or hitting a tree.