Despite road crashes claiming the lives of 1,300 people last year, Australian road users continue to put themselves and others at risk, according to new research released today.

The new research released by the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) highlighted not only the irresponsible behaviour of drivers but also those who sit idly by and allow it to happen.

In fact, the recent study showed that almost half (49%) of Australians do not ask speeding friends or family members to slow down, many believing it is simply not their place to caution another driver.

And it’s not just with loved ones that Australians let illegal behaviour slide.

The research revealed that 46 per cent of people riding with a texting taxi, UBER or professional driver will not ask them to put their phone away. While 18 per cent of these passengers claim it’s because they’re too afraid, an additional 18 per cent just ‘can’t be bothered’ speaking to the driver.

ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said that reducing the tragic loss of life on the roads can only stem from peer pressure and not from authorities dictating road laws.

“We need to create a culture where we call each other out on bad behaviour behind the wheel, instead of shuffling the responsibility onto others,” Mr White said.

“That’s what our Fatality Free Friday initiative is all about; educating road users on the individual role they play in reducing the devastating impact of road crashes,”

“Obviously nobody goes out looking to be in a road crash, but not everyone goes out deliberately looking to avoid one either, and that is evident every time someone speeds, takes a risk on the road, or uses their mobile phone,” he said.

 

Equally as alarming, the data revealed that more than half of Australian drivers (58%) narrowly avoid a car crash at least once a month, while 18 per cent of drivers said they experienced close calls on a weekly basis.

 

For drivers aged 25 and under, the findings were bleaker still, with more than a quarter (27%) experiencing a near miss at least weekly, more than double the percentage of drivers aged over 55 years.

 

The new data comes as the ARSF marks the official one-month countdown to Fatality Free Friday, the nation’s largest community-based road safety initiative, which this year falls on 26 May.

 

Mr White said Fridays remained one of the deadliest days of the week on Australian roads, accounting for 214 fatalities in 2016, or 16 per cent of the total road roll.

 

“This Fatality Free Friday, we ask everyone to spare a thought for the loved ones left behind after a fatal road crash, for whom there are constant daily reminders – the letters that still arrive addressed to the person who lost their life, sitting in the mailbox as a cruel testament to the senseless loss that will forever leave its scar,” Mr White said.

“We urge every motorist, passenger, cyclist and pedestrian to pledge their support for Fatality Free Friday, because every decision made on or around the road can be the difference between life and death,” he said.

 

Held annually on the last Friday in May since its inception in 2007, Fatality Free Friday has garnered support from hundreds of thousands of Australians, who have taken the road safety pledge, either in person, at one of the many public signing events across the country, or online.

 

Despite reductions in road deaths over the past decade, just 2 of the 53 Fridays in 2016 were fatality free – Friday, 5 February, and Friday, 24 June.

 

Of the 1,300 people who lost their lives on Australian roads in 2016, 18 per cent were aged between 18 and 25 years, closely followed by those aged 36 to 45 years (17 per cent), then 26 to 35 years (16 per cent).

Road users are encouraged to demonstrate their commitment to reducing the nation’s road toll by adding the Fatality Free Friday pledge to their Facebook and/or Twitter page: https://twibbon.com/Support/fatality-free-friday-3

 

For more information please visit: www.fatalityfreefriday.com.au

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