Sydney, Australia (PressExposure) October 21, 2009 -- Excessive speed, drag-racing, 'burn-outs', 'donuts' and 'fish tails' - in recent years, authorities across Australia have become increasingly concerned about the rise of these reckless and hoon-like behaviours, particularly among young drivers, who are overwhelmingly the most common offenders.
Despite evidence that comprehensive government campaigns and the introduction of a range of laws and measures to try and combat these behaviours are having a positive impact, AAMI's ninth annual Young Drivers Index [http://www.aami.com.au/Resources/File.aspx?id=161] (*1) demonstrates some drivers aged 18 to 24 years still persist in dangerous actions, such as speeding and drink-driving, putting not only themselves but the lives of other road users at risk.
"The consequences of anti-social and dangerous driving can be deadly. Despite young drivers only making up about 13 per cent of all drivers (*2), they continue to be over-represented in the road toll, accounting for a quarter of all drivers killed on our roads," AAMI Corporate Affairs Manager, Yves Noldus said.
Not surprisingly, this year's Young Drivers Index research again found speed to be a key factor, with one in six young drivers (17 per cent) in New South Wales admitting to speeding most of the time, almost triple the number of drivers aged 25 and over (6 per cent).
Alcohol and drugs add to risks
Research has also identified alcohol as a further major factor contributing to accidents involving young people on our roads (*3).
"It's alarming to see that some young drivers in New South Wales continue to underestimate the influence of alcohol consumption on their driving skills, with one in six (17 per cent) believing it is okay for them to drive after a few drinks as long as they feel capable," Mr Noldus said.
An increasing number of young drivers in New South Wales also admitted to taking a different route to avoid being breathalysed, with almost one in five (19 per cent) apparently engaging in this risky behaviour.
According to Mr Noldus, some young drivers in New South Wales similarly ignore the implications of drug use, with one in eight (12 per cent) claiming driving after using recreational drugs to be safer than driving after drinking.
Some messages gaining traction
Although this year's research shows some New South Wales drivers aged 18 to 24 years still take significant risks on our roads, there are signs various government campaigns are reaching some young drivers and bringing about a change for the better in their driving behaviour.
Fewer young drivers say they have sent or read text messages while driving and half are concerned they were over the drink-drive limit the next day, showing greater awareness of the time it takes for the effects of alcohol to wear off.
In the past twelve months, there also appears to have been a clear shift in young driver attitudes towards government and other regulatory initiatives specifically targeted at them.
"Almost half (47 per cent) of all young drivers in New South Wales now support the introduction of a late night curfew compared to less than one third (32 per cent) of young drivers in 2008. Almost four in five (78 per cent) now also support the introduction of a compulsory safe driving course, up 18 per cent from last year," Mr Noldus said.
"This shift may reflect a greater maturity and awareness of road safety issues and the importance of behaving more responsibly on our roads."
Room for Improvement
This year, for the first time, young drivers in News South Wales were asked what they worry about when driving on our roads and what they see as the major hazards.
The research reveals young drivers are less likely to worry about bad weather and poor road conditions than other drivers.
According to the Manager of AAMI Skilled Drivers' Program, Tony Barber, these findings reflect how young drivers' inexperience often determines the way they drive and how they are more likely to overestimate their driving ability and take risks.
"Road safety research has identified the most common factors influencing young driver behaviour are overconfidence, overestimation of driving ability and risk taking."
"Driver safety depends on vital abilities like hazard perception, personal risk perception, plus the motivation to make safe choices. In most cases, the safety of a young driver is going to be determined by how and under what conditions they choose to drive," Mr Barber said.
The full 2009 AAMI Young Drivers Index is available at www.aami.com.au.
Insurance benefits such as no fault, no penalty; lifetime repair guarantee; lifetime rating one/maximum no claim bonus; valet service; progressive no claim discount on home insurance and the first general insurance customer charter were all introduced by AAMI.
Established in 1970, AAMI today has more than 2.5 million policyholders and millions of incoming telephone calls annually.
(*1) The 2009 Young Drivers Index was conducted for AAMI by Sweeney research and is an independent telephone and internet survey of 2,500 licensed drivers in all States and Territories.
(*2) Australian Bureau of Statistics.
(*3) Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, 2008.