Why drivers are taking extra risks on the roads

AHEAD of this year's Fatality Free Friday initiative on May 29, the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) is hoping to curb the extra risks drivers are taking during Covid-19 restrictions.

Latest research shows despite less vehicles on the car, one in four regional Queensland drivers admit to taking increased road risks since the implementation of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The alarming research confirmed that speeding is already the most common road rule broken, with three quarters of the region's drivers admitting to being heavy footed. And now, in Covid-19 lockdown conditions, this dangerous driving act has increased by 19 per cent.

What's more, the most common risks being taken during Covid-19 after speeding include using a mobile phone behind the wheel (11 per cent higher) or driving after a few drinks (2 per cent spike).

ARSF founder and chief executive officer Russell White warned there is never an excuse to be taking risks on or around the roads.

"Sadly, with fewer cars on the roads during coronavirus, we're seeing an increase in bad driver behaviour, which is unacceptable," Mr White said.

"Road trauma at any time is tragic, but it's also largely preventable. While our incredible frontline medical and emergency services are already working harder than ever, is that text message or few extra minutes worth adding extra pressure on these resources?

"For every road death, another 35 Australians are hospitalised. Don't let a split second decision change your or someone else's life forever."

The research also revealed that only five per cent of the region's drivers think about the safety of other road users when behind the wheel.

In addition, more than three quarters of regional Queensland drivers admit to breaking a road law, with the most common excuses including not paying attention (45 per cent), a brief lapse in judgment (26 per cent), or simply believing it was 'safe' to do so (15 per cent).

Distraction also continues to be a common safety issue in the car, with more than half of drivers admit to eating while driving, one quarter admit to using their mobile phone, and one quarter admit to looking away from the road at GPS or music for more than two seconds, which doubles the chance of a crash.

"Now is not the time to relax. There is no room for complacency on the roads now, or ever, and all lives must be top of mind for road users at all times," Mr White said.

"The stark reality is that any time you take a risk behind the wheel, you are putting the lives of every motorist, passenger, cyclist and pedestrian around you at risk. Together, we can save precious lives on our roads."

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