So Canberra drivers are happy. It certainly seems so with our roads at least. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Measures of Australia’s Progress report released in mid November, Canberra motorists are among Australia’s most content where levels of traffic congestion are concerned.
In fact the majority, 72% of those Canberrans surveyed, said yes when asked if their city had a good road network and minimal traffic congestion. See full report on the ABS website..
But are we Canberrans living in a bubble with our safe roads and very little traffic congestion? What happens when we leave the ACT behind and venture into other states and territories?
Alarmingly, the statistics here show the news is not all good. In fact ACT drivers face very real risks on interstate roads. The low speeds and better roads in the ACT mean that fatal crashes involving ACT drivers are more likely to occur outside the ACT on the basis of vehicle kilometres travelled.
Recent analysis of a report by ARRB Group by the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust found Canberra drivers are between three and five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash on NSW roads, and substantially more likely to be injured there.
The reports also found that the majority of crashes involving ACT drivers between 2006 and 2010 happened en route to Sydney, or in the areas surrounding the ACT and on roads to nearby coastal towns. Common causes of these accidents included longer driving times and higher average speeds, as well as unfamiliar and unsealed roads.
Puts Sydney and coastal road trips for young and inexperienced drivers into focus right?
The report also highlights the need for ACT drivers to take extra special care, be more aware and practice safe driving techniques while travelling in NSW.
On the bright side, the powers that be locally are trying to address these issues. Announced just this week, the ACT and NSW police have launched a cross-border campaign aimed at lowering the numbers of deaths and injuries along the Kings Highway between Canberra and the South Coast, a stretch notorious for many accidents and road fatalities.
Latest ACT policing figures show a 10% increase in numbers of speeding offences recorded on the Kings Highway during the December to January periods, with drivers in their early 20s making up the worst category. So this cross border campaign can’t come fast enough.
The National Driving Academy believes that the cross border issue goes even deeper than just ACT drivers being inexperienced on NSW roads. Single lanes, speed restrictions placed on learner drivers and the large number of people rushing to the coast all contribute, as does the fact that ACT driving instructors are not permitted to instruct on NSW roads. It begs the question, how can our young drivers gain this valuable experience of learning on unfamiliar roads if the professional instructors just can’t go there?
Regardless, the National Driving Academy always encourages drivers to be prepared, research routes and directions in advance, follow the road trip checklist, adhere to road rules, speed limits, drink driving laws and above all, follow safe driving practices learnt during the learner driving phase. Safe driving, for life.