The boss of Mazda Australia says the focus on staying under the speed limit has created poor driving standards in Australia, while the Japanese company works to combat speed stress in the cabin.
Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders commented on Australian transport authorities' obsession with the fight against speeding while speaking with local media including CarAdvice in Hiroshima, Japan.
“I have to say, having spent six years away [in Japan and Germany], I am amazed how bad the driving standards are in Australia, in terms of [driver] focus on not going 1km/h over the speed limit, it’s shocking,” Benders said.
The comments came after CarAdvice quizzed Masashi Otsuka, program manager for CX-5 and CX-9, about what Mazda intends to do to combat rising levels of stress inside the cabin for markets such as Australia, where drivers are constantly under the microscope for low-level speeding.
Otsuka confirmed that his impressions of a "relaxed" Australia were unwarranted on our roads, given the ‘rigid’ enforcement of speed restrictions and how that wildly differs from Japan.
He pointed to the availability of technologies such as active cruise control (which can keep a safe distance from the car in front) and head-up display on the higher-end Mazda 3 models that project the speedometer to a road-focused portion of the driver’s view point, allowing for easier speed control.
Nonetheless, there are no Mazdas in the range that currently offer a speed limiter, which some would consider a necessity on Australian roads, though this is likely to change in the future as Mazda Australia's continuing success and growth further strengthens its voice in Japan.
Benders went on to say that the low tolerance to speeding was becoming a real problem in Australia and the massive focus on keeping under the speed limit was having "unintended consequences" to the detriment of road safety.
“You’ve got the police standing up and saying, 'We can’t have distracted drivers', and we have got all these distracted drivers focused on not going 1km/h over the speed limit.”
Australia has some of the world’s lowest speed limit tolerances. In 2013, 1,015,897 speeding tickets were issued in Victoria alone (netting the Victorian Government at least $150 million) with 79.4 per cent of those for infringements of no more than 10km/h over the limit.