An investigation of attitudes towards risk factors, personal driving ability and road safety information among rural and remote road users
Sticher, Gayle (2005) An investigation of attitudes towards risk factors, personal driving ability and road safety information among rural and remote road users. In Conference of Australian Institutes of Transport Research, 7-9 December 2005, Brisbane.
The incidence of road crashes and fatalities is disproportionately distributed between rural and urban areas. In Australia, over two thirds of the population live in urban areas, yet more than 50 percent of road fatalities occur in rural areas (ABS, 2001). While road conditions, distance and reliance on road transport increase the risks of rural and remote driving, there is evidence that the road use behaviour of rural drivers differs from that of their urban counterparts. Rural and remote road users have shown lower compliance rates with recommendations regarding the “fatal four‿ of seat belt use, drink driving, speeding and fatigue.
Existing countermeasures that have been effective in reducing fatality and injury rates in urban areas have been less successful in rural areas. Many reasons have been proposed for this difference, including attitudes of rural drivers towards driving safety and risk factors. It is possible that rural drivers may differ from urban drivers in their recognition of their driving risks, and in their readiness to undertake change to moderate those risks. Therefore, an understanding of rural drivers’ beliefs about their driving risks, driving ability and receptivity to road safety information is an important precursor to the development of countermeasures for rural road users.
This study compared the behaviour patterns and attitudes held by rural and remote road users, with those who had recently been hospitalised after a road crash. When compared with data obtained from crash cases, it was found that rural road users inaccurately appraised the risk factors associated with rural crashes, gave very positive appraisals of their own driving ability and incorrectly attributed risk to external factors. Rural road users generally had a low personal receptivity to road safety information, and particularly for information that is presented in written form or required a more deliberate input from themselves.
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