02 November 2021
How We Can Drive Smarter, Not Faster
Australia ranks among the highest in the world for road deaths. Here are 4 key risk factors to be aware of and help you get to your destination safely.
Australia has one of the highest road fatality rates in the world with the leading causes of accidents being speeding, driving when fatigued, drink driving, and driving distracted.
To help you get to your destination more safely, we have highlighted these major risk factors and given you some tips to help you on your journey.
Speeding contributes to a whopping 32% of road fatalities in Australia and is the single largest contributor to death on our roads. When we say speeding, this doesn’t mean driving like a racing driver, even small speed increases can cause problems. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the speed limit.
A person’s risk of being involved in a road casualty doubles with each 5km/h increase above 60km/h, and a simple 5km/h reduction can mean at least a 15% decrease in crashes.
It pays to regularly check your speed, and to slow down for appropriate road and weather conditions. It pays to remember that when driving through residential and built-up areas where there is no speed limit indicated, the limit is typically 50km/h.
Sleep is a very important part of our lives and when we don’t get enough, our brains don’t process information well. It’s no surprise then that driving while tired accounts for 25% of fatal crashes and is 4 times more likely to be a contributing factor in impairment than drugs or alcohol. In fact, being awake for 17 hours makes you as dangerous as someone who has been drinking with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05.
Most car accidents caused by fatigue occur either when the driver is sleep-deprived or when they are driving during normal sleep hours. One reason for this is that when your body is exhausted enough it can quite literally have momentary shut downs that happen without your awareness. These are called microsleeps and are a very dangerous phenomenon on the road.
Make sure you never drive while tired and if driving long distances, take plenty of breaks and regularly swap drivers if possible. Try and avoid driving during times when you’d usually be sleeping, and if you begin to feel tired, pull over and take a break.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs reduces your ability to judge distance and speed, impairs vision and slows reaction times. 30% of road traffic deaths in Australia involve alcohol and more than 1 in 4 riders and drivers killed on our roads have been found to have a BAC above the legal limit. Two very sobering statistics.
Even prescription or over-the-counter medication can impact driving so it’s advisable to talk with your doctor if you’re unsure about the effects.
If you are going to have a couple of drinks it’s not quite as simple as sticking to the recommended guides for standard drinks. Alcohol affects everyone differently. Along with the general advice to allow time to process the alcohol and have food and water, other factors such as body size, stress levels, and other medications need to be factored in. Some people are pushed over the limit more easily than others and it’s not something worth guessing.
While driving isn’t always the most complex task, it does require focus and attention to identify potential hazards. At least 20% of all fatalities involve driver distraction.
Major distractions include touching your phone while driving, eating food, screaming children, loud music and noisy passengers. Just as in the classic song, “keep your eyes on the road and hands upon the wheel” are lyrics worth noting. Even a quick glance at your phone just for a second, can mean losing awareness of your surroundings and putting yourself and your passengers at risk.
Daydreaming is another form of a distraction you may not have thought of. Even when you’re looking at the road, if your mind is on other things, it can be just as dangerous as bending down to change your radio.
Sadly, accidents happen even when you take every care. At NRMA, you can find the right cover for you and your situation, whether you’re in SA, WA or anywhere else in Australia. View our car insurance options for more information on the policy that is right for you.