Victoria's Transport Accident Commission (TAC) has released details of a study into the risks taken by young drivers on country roads.
Surveying 92 young country motorists with poor driving records, the study focused on the excuses and rationalisations used to justify dangerous road behaviour.
Excuses for exceeding the speed limit by up to 30km/h included a strong familiarity with local roads, or that the driver was running late for an appointment.
These excuses changed, however, for drivers exceeding the speed limit by 30km/h or more with offenders saying their speed was based on driving a high-performance car, or “for fun”.
Insufficient public transport options was listed a key issue with drink-driving offenders and unlicensed drivers, while other drink-drivers believed they had sufficient control over the vehicle, despite their blood-alcohol level.
Others with suspended or cancelled licences ignored their driving restrictions for the purposes of travelling to and from work.
Drug-driving offenders said they used drugs in place of alcohol as the designated-driver, or as a means of staying alert when driving late at night.
Drivers who failed to use a seatbelt claimed they were ‘uncomfortable’ or they weren’t in the habit of wearing one.
The 92 participants, aged 19-35, took part in two focus group discussions and were located in the Cardinia, Mitchell and Golden Plains Shire areas. There was a general improvement in driver behaviour from the first to the second focus group, with each held six months apart.
Some 67 percent of males in the first focus group admitted to drink-driving in the last six months, which dropped to 61 percent in the second focus group.
For females, 33 percent admitted likewise, dropping to 19 percent in the second group.
In the first group, 49 percent said they exceeded a 100km/h speed-limit "often", while 31 percent did so "occasionally". In the second group, the figures were 34 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Other key findings included the high self-opinion of ‘risky’ drivers - with 69 percent believing they were a better-than-average driver - while many believed other road users were the greatest source of danger.
"Unfortunately too many country drivers still feel that they can ignore road safety laws and this research gives the TAC a better understanding of how we can change these attitudes," TAC CEO Janet Dore said.
"With regard to drink driving, it is disturbing to think that people can justify their behaviour by saying that a lack of public transport leaves them no alternative. Surely the obvious alternative for someone who can't get home without driving would be to refrain from drinking."
Half of all drink-drivers were more concerned with hurting or killing others over themselves, while 25 percent feared being caught by police.
Most participants considered using mobile phones while driving as ‘normal’ driving behaviour. Many said that time spent on the road was the only chance they had to make calls, while others said they didn’t want to miss any calls.
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