Older Not Wiser

Monday, 24 June 2013
Road safety experts are calling for governments and the wider industry to help make driver simulators more readily accessible for both learner and experienced drivers, in an effort to create safer roads.

The plea comes off the back of the new research which reveals a shocking number of  current license holders do not recall basic road rules suggesting they’d likely fail a drivers  test if required to re-sit.

Alarmingly, the inaugural CARMA Road Risk Rating has found more than three quarters of  Australian drivers (up to 85%) could not correctly identify fundamental driving rules and  practices such as right of way, driving distance, adequate vision and steering wheel hand  position.

In fact, despite additional years behind the wheel, drivers aged 40-59 demonstrated less of an understanding of basic road rules than their less experienced counterparts (those aged 18-24).

The CARMA research also revealed that when it came to bad behaviour, age was no barrier behind the wheel. Drivers across the board admitted to unlawful activity, with each age group demonstrating a propensity for particular driving offenses. 18-24 year olds for example, are more inclined to talk on the phone or text while driving, while a greater number of those aged 40-59 openly admit to drink driving.

“Experienced drivers are quick to point the finger at learners and P platers but as the research shows, there is a void in both knowledge and performance across all age groups,” explains Russell White leading road safety activist and ambassador for the CARMA Driver Safety program.

“Where this becomes a particular issue, is in the development of future drivers as younger people are typically taught by their parents. This suggests the younger generation may be picking up bad habits and out-dated driving practices from mum and dad.

“And despite perceptions, what many don’t realise is that the 40-59 age group account for the biggest number of road deaths annually, more than those aged 18-24.

“Years on the road doesn’t always translate into driver proficiency which is why it’s so  important that both young and experienced drivers have access to the tools to help them  improve their driving skills,” adds White.

White’s ultimate vision includes the introduction of Driver Simulator Centres across the country where road users of all ages and skill level can experience dangerous or unusual traffic and road conditions in a controlled, virtual environment.

“Simulators are the safest and most effective way to combat risky behaviour, improve driver proficiency and better equip drivers with skills necessary to create safer roads.

“Our current CARMA high school program - which combines road safety education and asimulator road show - is extremely well received by both teachers and students and directly demonstrates the importance of conscious driving practices.

“Unfortunately, a single simulator can cost thousands, so creating greater access for drivers of all ages is a costly exercise, which requires support from governments and the industry alike.

“That said, 1,400 mostly preventable deaths on Australian roads each year is a devastating statistic. If we can help save just one life on our roads, it’s money well spent and a cause well worth pursuing,” White concludes.

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