Drivers admit to reckless behaviour, even with kids in car

DESPITE two third of road deaths last year occurring on rural roads, new research shows drivers are more likely to let their guard down outside of the hustle and bustle of city streets.

Data from the Australian Road Safety Foundation, released to mark Rural Road Safety Month which runs across August, shows one in three Aussie drivers admit to taking more risky behaviour on regional roads.

According to the results of the research, having children in the car doesn't act as a deterrent with half of every rural driver admitting to speeding, using their phone or driving distracted while their own kids sit in the back.

One third of rural road users admitted to taking risks behind the wheel with someone else's children in the car.

Following community support of last year's inaugural Rural Road Safety Week, the ARSF has extended the initiative to a month-long national campaign.

ARSF Founder and CEO Russell White urged Australians to take ownership for their role in reducing the rural road toll.

"While there are a number of factors that contribute to the regional road toll, it's everyday Australians that hold the key to safer roads," Mr White said.

"The research has told us that drivers are taking risks on rural roads because they're either less likely to get caught or perceive there to be fewer dangers.

"We will continue to see a significant and unnecessary loss of life on regional roads until we make a collective effort to shift this mentality so that safety is front of mind for all road users."

The ARSF research has also highlighted the disparity in attitudes and behaviours between rural and city drivers.

According to the data, metro residents are more likely than rural drivers to engage in dangerous behaviour on rural roads.

When it came to undertaking those risky behaviours, rural drivers only scored worse than their metro counterparts when it came to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The research also showed that one in three road users recognised that a shift in attitudes and behaviour would have the biggest impact on the road toll.

"Despite making up only 16.5 per cent of the nation's population, regional road deaths account for a staggering two in every three of the national toll," Mr White said.

"Acknowledging that everyday road users have a personal responsibility is the first step and it's our hope that Rural Road Safety Month will encourage drivers to choose road safety and turn this sentiment into real action."

Running from August 1 to 31, Rural Road Safety Month is a community-based awareness initiative that calls on everyday road users to jump in the driver seat of regional road safety.

The ARSF research was conducted by a third-party research company, Pure Profile, and was an online survey of more than 1,000 licenced Australians, nationally representative by gender, age and location.

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