A keen reader recently emailed us regarding the ironic state of our government’s approach to road safety. On one hand, you must always keep your eyes glued to the speedo – since speed is the killer – on the other hand taking your eyes of the road (to say, check your speedo or read the sign below) is also a killer.
To compound the problem, Road Safety signs warning drivers to NOT take their eyes of the road or to slow down are adding to the problem. The Victorian government published a report in 2006 titled “inquiry into driver distraction“. The report suggested that advertising on the roadside has been linked to higher crash risks.
Although no Australian study has been undertaken to show the extent of the linkage, A 2004 Canadian study found that 90% of drivers glanced at one or more signs for at least 0.75 seconds, while 20 per cent glanced for a duration longer than 2 seconds. A 2 second distraction can easily lead to a head on collision or any other type of accident.
So if the State/Federal governments are really keen to reduce the road toll, why are they selling more and more government owned space for road side advertising? And more importantly, why are they advertising – road safety messages – on distracting road signs?
In 2005 The Age reported a survey (conducted by AAMI) of 2400 drivers across Victoria and found that just under half of the Victorian respondents said they had been distracted by roadside billboards. The survey also found Victorian motorists to be the most cynical in the nation about speed cameras. 60% of Victorians believe that Speed Cameras are not reliable while 89% admitted to sometimes speeding.