The dangers of driving on Australian rural roads are hard to ignore when you consider more than half of the nation’s road fatalities occur on either rural or remote roads. With two-thirds of the Australian population residing in metropolitan areas, it’s difficult to understand why this epidemic receives such limited attention.
Four Horrific Facts about Australian Rural Highways:
1. Every year at least 700 lives are lost on rural roads, with thousands more injured.
2. Urban road crash rates are decreasing at a much faster rate than rural crash rates.
3. (In the Year 2000) The risk of dying in a rural compared to an urban crash was 4.2 times higher.
4. Rural road crashes make up under half (48%) of road fatalities, despite more than two thirds (69%) of the Australian population residing in metropolitan areas.
What can be done?
The increased legal travel speeds on rural roads are a major reason why crashes often lead to more serious injuries or death on rural roads. Additional, characteristics that are typically associated with a rural vehicle journeys such as unsealed roads and extensive travel times also drastically contribute to the risk of a crash. Fleet management teams should take it upon themselves to educate drivers on the importance of slowing down, taking their time, and understanding the dangers of these roads.
Releasing drivers of tight and times unrealistic timeframe pressures for deliveries or meetings would remove the “rush factor” and allow drivers to focus on driving safely. Another action organisations can take is to implement fatigue management policies so fleet drivers are not driving vehicles on these unsafe rural roads whilst feeling fatigued.
Recent studies have found that an astounding 30% of hospitalised rural drivers said they were distracted immediately before the crash. It is imperative that organisations can do everything possible to ensure that they are not causing any of these distractions.
The fact of the matter is that it is impossible to remove all the dangers associated with driving on a rural road. It is, however, the responsibility of the organisation and fleet management teams to ensure they have done everything possible to make sure the journey is as safe as possible.