Australian Road Safety Foundation launches annual initiative targeting high-risk rural roads
With rural road fatalities making up two thirds of last year’s national road toll , new research has looked under the bonnet at dangerous driver behaviour and the importance of further education to save precious lives.
Released by the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) to mark the third annual Rural Road Safety Month (August 1 to 31), the research reveals that a staggering 78% of city and regional drivers admit to risky driver behaviour generally, while one in five confess to being more likely to break a road rule in rural areas. 
Worryingly, speed is the number one dangerous driving act that all Australians are prepared to risk on rural roads, while speed, fatigue and drunk driving are the top behaviours found to most likely impact rural drivers.
However, there are dangers beyond the driver’s seat that are creating added risk in rural areas. In fact, regional residents are also more likely to ride bicycles and scooters without a helmet, as well as ride them after a few drinks.
ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said every Australian driver, whether city or regional based, must take ownership of their role in reducing the rural road toll.
“Despite smaller population numbers, 835 people tragically lost their lives on regional roads last year, which shows that just one dangerous choice can have dire consequences,” Mr White said.
“When it came to reasons for increasing risky behaviour on rural roads, not getting caught was the most common response, and it was most prevalent amongst regional drivers.
“The research also tells us that on rural roads, local drivers are more cognisant of their behaviour causing harm to others, whereas metro drivers are more likely to only be concerned with doing harm to themselves.
“We will continue to see an unnecessary loss of life in rural communities until we acknowledge that all road users have a personal responsibility to ensure safety is front of mind when behind the wheel.”
The ARSF research also highlights the disparity in attitudes and behaviours between rural and city drivers.
The data reveals that metro drivers not only wrongly believe that rural roads are safer than city streets and motorways, but almost half incorrectly claimed that more road fatalities occur in city areas.
The Suncorp Group, including its insurance brands Suncorp, AAMI, GIO and Apia sees firsthand the devastating effects road accidents have on people’s lives, every day, is once again supporting the ARSF this Rural Road Safety Month.
“We are proud of our partnership with the Australian Road Safety Foundation, and hope the people of Australia take the pledge, and live the pledge this Rural Road Safety Month,” Executive General Manager of Motor Claims, Anna Cartwright said.
“Driving on rural roads can be very different than in the suburbs or capital cities – you need to adapt, be alert and drive to the conditions.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in a rural, regional or remote community, or you’re just driving through, every one of us can make a commitment to drive safer. Please don’t become a statistic this Rural Road Safety Month.”
Running from August 1 to 31, Rural Road Safety Month is a community-based awareness initiative that calls on everyday road users to jump in the driver’s seat of regional road safety.
Backed by the Australian Government and long-time sponsor Suncorp, businesses, community groups and individuals are encouraged to choose road safety and get involved by hosting a local awareness raising event.
The ARSF research was conducted by a third-party research company, Pure Profile, and was an online survey of more than 1,000 licenced Australians, nationally representative by gender, age and location.
For more information or to find out how to get involved, visit arsf.com.au.
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 BITRE Road Deaths Database, 2020 calendar year
 Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of the Australian Road Safety Foundation, April 2020, n=1001 nationally representative by gender, age and location of Australian drivers aged 18 years and over