SAFER ROADS: Authorities urge drivers to be cautious this rural road safety week.
SAFER ROADS: Authorities urge drivers to be cautious this rural road safety week. Michael Nolan

Changing the toll on deadly rural roads

TWO thirds of road deaths around Australia have occurred on regional roads.

This is according to the Australian Road Safety Foundation who are calling all rural road users to be reminded to be safe this rural road safety week from October 8-12.

The foundation commissioned new research, which revealed both regional and metro drivers changed their driving behaviour when on rural roads.

One in three Australians are more likely to break a road rule when driving on rural roads, compared to city or suburban streets, the data revealed.

Parliamentary friends of road safety co-chair and Queensland Chair of the black spot road program committee, Llew O'Brien said the inaugural rural road safety week reminded drivers to take extra care on the road.

"Not just for this week, but every time we get behind the wheel," he said.

The Wide Bay member said the research showed a third of Australian drivers admitted they were more likely to break a road rule on regional roads.

"We must always be alert to the responsibility we have to ourselves, our passengers, and all other road users whenever and wherever we drive," Mr O'Brien said.

"I congratulate the Australian Road Safety Foundation for bringing forward this important road safety initiative which is designed to save lives and avoid injury and trauma on the road."

Foundation CEO Russell White said all Australians should 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 every day Australians that hold the key to safer roads," he said.

Almost half of drivers admit they are more likely to break road rules on regional roads because they are less likely to be caught by police.

"We will continue to see this significant and unnecessary loss of life on regional roads, until we make the effort to shift this mentality so that we're driving with safety front of mind," Mr White said.

According to the data, regional drivers were more likely to engage in dangerous behaviour including driving under the influence of drugs, driving fatigued, not wearing a seatbelt and speeding.

The majority of regional drivers believed driver's attitudes and behaviours would make the biggest difference to the road toll, whereas metro drivers believed improved infrastructure would make the biggest impact.

"Acknowledging that every day road users have a personal responsibility is the first step, and now it's our hope that Rural Road Safety Week will help turn this sentiment into real action," Mr White said.