By Lauren Reid
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Most of us think we’re great drivers, but you’d be surprised how many people admit to dangerous habits behind the wheel. RAA’s insurance team asked South Australians about their attitudes towards these seven deadly driving sins. Here’s what we found.
More than half of respondents (54% to be exact) admitted to driving while feeling sleepy. We also saw that women were more likely to admit to this behaviour than men in our survey (57% compared to 49%).
However, given male drivers are at fault in 60% of fatigue-related casualty crashes – according to stats from the Motor Accident Commission – it’s clearly a problem we all need to consider.
Whether you’re heading off on a road trip or just getting home after a late night, driving while fatigued can be deadly – it’s estimated to be a factor in up to 30% of fatal crashes and 15% of serious-injury crashes.
In 2016, at least this many people were killed due to drowsy driving
If you’re set for a long journey, try and schedule it in for an early morning start after a good night’s sleep rather than heading off after work when you’re likely to be more tired.
Make sure you stop every two hours to stretch your legs and get some fresh air for 15 minutes or so. Share the driving and try to stay overnight to break up the travel if it’s a really long trip, and make sure you eat regular healthy snacks along the way too.
Remember that short trips can be just as dangerous too, so it’s best to avoid driving altogether if you’re drowsy.
Nearly a third of respondents (29%) admitted to intentionally speeding, despite significant public education about the risks. What’s just as alarming is that 15% thought the risk of having a crash when speeding is low, as long as you’re being careful – which is simply not the case.
Speeding reduces the amount of time you have to react to situations on the road and also increases the force of impact, meaning it affects the likelihood of a crash, as well as the severity of injuries.
The penalties for speeding range from a $170 fine and two demerit points for speeding by less than 10km/h, to a $1014 fine, nine demerit points and a six-month licence disqualification if you’re found to be travelling 45km/h or more over the limit. A $60 Victims of Crime Levy applies to all penalties.
Alcohol may increase people’s confidence, but that’s not always a good thing – especially on the road where this often manifests itself in aggressive or unpredictable driving behaviours. Not to mention the fact that alcohol impairs your focus, reactions and decision-making behind the wheel.
Sadly, 13% of respondents say they’ve driven knowing they were potentially over the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.05. With a BAC of 0.05 or more, your risk of being in a casualty crash doubles.
The percentage of people killed on SA roads in 2016 that were over the limit
If it’s your first offence for drink driving, you’ll face a fine of between $600 and $1600 and your licence could be suspended for a minimum of 6 or 12 months (depending on your BAC). For subsequent offences, the penalties continue to increase, and your vehicle could be impounded for 28 days – which also brings with it additional costs.
Our survey results showed that 4% of respondents have driven knowing their driving ability could be impaired by a medical condition – for example, diabetes.
This one may be rare, but it can still be deadly if your condition isn’t being managed properly, so always consult your health care professional at the first signs and follow their care management and medication plan.
If you’re taking medication or have a medical condition that could affect your ability to drive, you’re legally required to report it in writing to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles at GPO Box 1533, Adelaide SA.
You’ll be fined $750 for failing to notify the Registrar for a relevant medical condition if it could affect your driving.
In our survey, almost two thirds of respondents (65%) said they’d experienced tailgating and, in the last financial year, more than 3000 drivers were caught making this dangerous mistake – so we know it’s rife.
What’s alarming is that 6% of respondents thought it was okay to tailgate if the driver in front is traveling below the speed limit. This just isn’t true, as no matter what speed the person in front of you is travelling, tailgating reduces your ability to safely stop in an emergency.
You might be frustrated if you’re stuck behind someone driving below the marked speed limit, but given rear-enders are one of the most common types of crashes it pays to be patient and courteous. In fact, over 30% of crashes in urban driving result from driver inattention and following too closely.
If you’re caught tailgating, you’ll face a $327 fine plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and one demerit point – plus you’ll also be considered to be at fault if you rear-end the car in front of you.
Most of us know that using our mobile phones behind the wheel is dangerous – yet plenty of our survey respondents still thought there were circumstances where it was okay.
Nearly a quarter of people (24%) said it’s okay to use your phone in an emergency, which is concerning given that in emergency situations you’re actually likely to need even greater focus on what’s going on around you.
Then there were 15% that thought it was okay to use their phone at traffic lights (which is incorrect) and 74% that said it’s okay if you’re pulled over on the side of the road. This last one’s almost right – you need to be completely parked with the handbrake on and vehicle out of gear before touching your phone.
You could be fined $327, plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and three demerit points for using your phone behind the wheel.
One in 10 of our survey respondents treat yellow lights more like green ones, saying they increase their speed when approaching a yellow light rather than trying to stop.
The Australian Road Rules say that, as long as it’s safe, you must stop when approaching a yellow light.
The penalty for breaking this rule is the same as if you disobeyed a red light: a $454 fine, a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and three demerit points.