Scottish drivers admit risk factor
More than 70 per cent of drivers in Scotland admit to taking risks whilst driving, and just over half confess to speeding, according to research carried out by the Scottish Government as it launches a new campaign with Road Safety Scotland (part of Transport Scotland) encouraging drivers to consider how they can reduce their ‘risk factor’ on country roads.
Among the risks Scottish drivers admit to taking are:
- Phoning or texting while driving
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Carrying on driving while tired
Statistics show that three out of four road fatalities occur on Scotland’s country roads resulting in an average of 190 deaths per year.
A series of new adverts is being shown across Scotland from March 2, 2012 as part of the campaign to make drivers aware of how even minor distractions and driving a bit too fast to read the road properly can cause serious accidents on country roads.
The campaign features a series of adverts aimed at tackling the complexities around the risk-taking behaviour of male drivers. It encourages them to watch their speed and concentrate on the road in order to reduce the risks when driving on country roads which should, in turn, reduce the number of accidents and fatalities.
Risk-taking is strongly related to gender and age, and the riskiest drivers on Scotland’s roads are men under 45. Three quarters of those killed on rural roads are males, and one third are young drivers aged between 17-25.
June Ross from Alford in Aberdeenshire lost her eldest son Ian Buchanan in a country roads accident just two days before his 23rd birthday. He was a passenger in a car travelling on the B993 Kemnay to Monymusk road in Aberdeenshire when the driver lost control and they were hit by an oncoming vehicle.
June, who set up a support group called Don’t You Forget About Me (DYFAM) to help other families affected by road traffic accidents in Aberdeenshire, said:
“Too many lives are lost on country roads, including my son’s, which is why I’m supporting this campaign and the message it’s sending out. My son Ian was the passenger in his friend’s car, and although speed was a factor in his death, distraction may also have contributed to the accident.
“DYFAM was set up in memory of Ian, to help support people who have been affected by road accidents. I’m proud his legacy continues to make a difference to other people, and hopefully my support of this national campaign will go some way to preventing similar accidents and ultimately saving lives in the future.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
“Although the number of casualties on Scotland’s roads is at its lowest level since records began, even one death on our roads is unacceptable. The decision, for the first time, to set demanding Scottish road safety targets is further evidence of how seriously we are taking this issue as a Government.
“We are working with many organisations to target those who continue to risk the lives of others through using a mobile phone at the wheel, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or simply not paying attention. Three quarters of fatalities happen on country roads – that’s 190 wasted lives – and tough enforcement combined with educating drivers of the dire consequences of ignoring simple safety advice is absolutely key.
“We know that the biggest risk takers are men under the age of 45, and that around three quarters of those killed on rural roads are men. This hard-hitting campaign will send out a clear message that even minor distractions and driving a bit too fast to read the road properly can cause serious accidents on country roads.”
Commenting on risk-taking behaviour, Dr Neale Kinnear, Senior Psychologist at TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), added:
“Driving is a complex skill using many mental processes and different areas of the brain. Research shows the same basic processes are often required even when the tasks seem quite different. For example, both ‘reading the road’ and ‘having a conversation’ will involve areas of the brain used for anticipation, understanding and planning. When we drive and perform another task, like texting, we perform poorly on both tasks and even experienced drivers’ ability to anticipate the road ahead is severely affected. The bottom line is that ‘multi-tasking’ is somewhat of a myth and we can only properly concentrate on one thing at a time. Keeping your attention on the road ahead is the safe and responsible thing to do when driving.
”The faster you drive, the more chance you have of crashing. Country roads, in particular, catch drivers out because they are changeable and offer little margin for error; being unable to respond to a hazard just once can be fatal. Bends, junctions, and other unexpected hazards like farm traffic, walkers and cyclists can all take drivers by surprise. By slowing down on country roads, drivers can give themselves more time to respond to such hazards.”
A series of Rural Readiness tips have been developed to help drivers reduce their country road risk:
Watch your speed – always adjust your speed to the conditions of the road. You don’t have to be speeding to be driving too fast.
Read the road – be aware that conditions can change quickly and hazards can appear with little warning.
Don’t be distracted – even minor distractions can cause serious accidents on country roads.
Overtake wisely - only overtake when you have a clear, long view of the road ahead. It takes longer than you think to pass a vehicle when traffic is coming the other way.
Careful on corners - when approaching a bend reduce your speed.
Expect the unexpected – country roads can be unpredictable, whether it’s animals on the road or mud or other debris on the road surface.
Belt up - ensure everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt.