Drivers are taking big risks

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
WA Traffic Commander Mick Sutherland urged regional drivers to slow down.
Camera IconWA Traffic Commander Mick Sutherland urged regional drivers to slow down. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian, Ross Swanborough

South West drivers have begun flouting road rules frequently during COVID-19 social restrictions, with speeding and drink- driving incidents the most common.

According to research from the Australian Road Safety Foundation, three-quarters of the region’s drivers believe the roads are safer under current conditions.

While it is expected that the road toll would reflect the minimal vehicles on the road, the national year-to-date road toll has declined just 12.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Speeding is the most common road rule broken, with over half of the region’s drivers admitting to being heavy footed, however in COVID-19 lockdown conditions, speeding has increased 21 per cent.

WA Traffic Commander Mick Sutherland said despite an apparent decrease in traffic volumes, WA Police had noted an increase in vehicles speeding, particularly in higher ranges above the limit, predominantly 20-29km/h.

“Drivers are reminded that higher speeds come with higher consequences and WA Police continue to maintain a strong traffic enforcement presence,” he said.

Margaret River police posted a warning to drivers on Twitter, citing several drivers speeding this week. “We’ve had several crashes on John Archibald Drive recently. Please drive carefully and observe posted speed limits,” they said.

ARSF chief executive Russell White warned there was never an excuse to be taking risks on our 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.

“For every road death, another 35 Australians are hospitalised. Don't let a split-second decision change your or someone else's life for ever.”

According to the research more than two in three regional drivers admitted breaking a road law while 36 per cent admitted to speeding, using their mobile phone or driving distracted with children in the car. Drink-driving increased 11 per cent, while using a mobile phone behind the wheel rose 5 per cent.

Bridgetown and Manjimup Police at the Wagerup checkpoint charged a 30-year-old man with drink-driving after he blew in excess of 0.08 and was caught speeding at 30km/h over the speed limit on his way to work on Monday.

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