Research from the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust has found fatal crashes involving ACT drivers are at least three times more likely to occur outside the territory, with a high number occurring on NSW roads.
Even though the ACT recorded the lowest annual road fatalities* of all Australian states and territories, a recent study from the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust has found that Canberra drivers are between three and five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash on NSW roads, and are more likely to be injured there.
The ARRB Group analysed car accidents involving ACT drivers between 2006 and 2010 and found majority of crashes were in or en route to Sydney. A significant number of accidents also occurred in areas surrounding the ACT and in nearby coastal towns.
The study also revealed 66% of accidents involving ACT drivers happened in these areas, with one-third of the crashes occurring across recreational routes and on unsealed roads within 100 kilometres of the ACT.
NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust chairman Don Aitkin said the report didn’t cover causes of accidents, but believes the ACT’s lower speed limits and better infrastructure reduces the risk of motor vehicle accidents in the territory.
”Half of our fatal crashes and serious injury crashes don’t occur in the ACT because here the speeds are controlled,” Professor Aitkin said. “The roads are good, there are no or very few heavy trucks, there’s very little high speed driving and there are no rural roads.”
The NRMA Motoring & Services warns drivers to take extra care on the roads this holiday period and we encourage drivers to:
Prepare your car - have it serviced and check that you’re prepared for emergencies with a blanket, torch and first aid kit.
Prepare yourself – be rested before a long drive, plan the trip so you share the driving and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
The test tracks that the judges use test both man and machine.
It’s tough enough for a vehicle to make it through to Australia’s Best Cars final judging, so you’d expect the off-road component to really test a vehicle’s dirt track credentials.
2013 was my third Australia’s Best Cars testing program and it continues to impress me how in-depth the testing regime is from start to finish. I’ve been involved in similar award judging at two other companies and nothing comes close to the rigour of the Australia’s Best Cars system. You’d expect then, that the 4WD off-road component is just as challenging – and you’d be right.
All-terrain 4WDs are tested to the same criteria as the rest of the categories. Given their off-road prowess though, the all terrain vehicles are tossed headlong into a few extra tests as well that measure their strength in two unique categories.
Engine gearing and traction are measured, along with clearance and articulation – with specific tracks set up to really challenge the vehicles. Gearing is vitally important when it comes to tough off-road work. The lower geared an off roader is, the more ability it has to crawl out of really nasty situations smoothly. Lower gearing also helps the driver modulate throttle response ensuring better traction.
Clearance is another vital factor off-road. Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes in the bush and the better the clearance, the more overall ability a 4WD will have. Clearance isn’t just about being able to roll over an obstacle either; approach and departure angles make a big difference to climbing into and out of ruts and river crossings. Short overhangs make a big difference here.
The test tracks are challenging and provide an array of different challenges. Whoop-de-dos (rolling hills), a water crossing, sharp table tops and a slippery, wet-clay descent get the 4WDs warmed up. The last test is perhaps the most difficult though.
It’s an extremely steep climb, lasting well over 400 metres, loose and scrabbly under the tyres, and there’s no room for mistakes. Lose momentum and you’ll be forced to reverse all the way back down to the bottom and start again. Some 2WD SUVs can’t even hope to make it halfway up this climb. Many stop halfway.
For the all-terrain 4WDs, it’s not a matter of whether they can make it to the top – it’s more about how easily they can achieve it. The best do it effortlessly, without even spinning a tyre, such is the quality of the modern traction-control systems. Numerous laps around this varied and tough off-road course certainly allow the cream to rise to the top.
Australia’s Best Cars judging has come and gone for 2013 with the winners to be announced mid-November. After clicking over 10 years as a judge, it’s a good time to reflect on what the Australia’s Best Cars program is all about.
The program is much more than just an awards event and beauty contest where the latest models shine. It is about providing detailed information over a wide range of criteria for close to 200 of the most popular vehicles on the market – vehicles that NRMA Members purchase.
There are three main headings that vehicles are scored on: Value for Money, Design and Function, and On The Road. We publish all our scores for manufacturers and our Members to scrutinise, so there is definitely no secrecy about the program from the judge’s perspective!
The work that goes into the program continues year-round, involving not just the NRMA but all the motoring clubs. Combined, we have a large reach with over 6.5 million Members collectively.
To make the finals a vehicle needs to be driven by judges at two motoring clubs. We then all head to the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Victoria for a week where we don the lab coats to examine, measure, and score all manner of detail – this where the suppliers to the Australian and International car industry need to validate their componentry.
There is no better place to test the 50-odd finalists in the ABC program than over a variety of conditions in a controlled environment like a proving ground. And our testing isn’t confined to cars; we test a wide variety of vehicles from light all the way up to all-terrain.
The proving ground has sections and courses that can accommodate just about any scenario. At our disposal are demanding uphill 4WD tracks and slopes that include special areas where axle articulation and the vehicle’s ground clearance can be assessed. For the SUVs, the second-class road with its series of corrugations and off camber dirt corners, quickly sort the good from the bad – in fact just about any road surface can be replicated there if required.
For passenger cars, we use a section of the proving ground that includes a skid pan that can be watered down to replicate wet driving conditions and this section is where we test the handling ability of the finalists. It’s here, where we put the cars through a series of tests that quickly reveals to judges if the car is made of the right stuff and worthy of a finals berth.
Good news: our push for mandatory alcohol interlocks and tougher penalties for drink driving offences was heard. Now it’s a reality.
Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay has announced alcohol interlocks are to be made mandatory for high-range and repeat drink drive offenders, in a bid to reduce the number of drink-driving offences. Drivers who exceed their demerit point limit twice in five years will also have to re-sit the Driver Knowledge Test and complete a driver education course.
Require repeat drink drivers to re-sit their full driver’s licence test and install alcohol interlocks in the vehicles of repeat drink drivers for 12 months once they get their licence back;
Require drivers who have accumulated their allotted demerit points twice in five years to re-sit their learner knowledge test and education course and give drivers the choice of attending a driver education course instead of accumulating demerit points and getting a fine for one low-range offence; and
“Road safety experts estimate the introduction of mandatory interlocks will prevent at least 140 alcohol related crashes, six fatalities and 102 injuries in the first five years alone,” Mr Gay said.
“We also believe there will also be about 500 fewer drink driving offences per year across the state once mandatory interlocks are introduced.”
Mandatory alcohol interlock programs are running in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory, ACT and Queensland, with more than 12,000 offender programs operating in Australia.
This announcement marks a win for the NRMA and the Police Association of NSW’s public fight for NSW to join the other states in tackling bad drivers. This also marks a win for those people who supported us in our cause through participating in our poll on Facebook and on our website, where both drew an overwhelming response of more than 90% of votes supporting alcohol interlocks to be mandatory for repeat offenders.
(Watch the CH7 coverage below – video may take a few seconds to load).
What you need to know
What are alcohol interlocks? An Alcohol interlock is an electronic device connected to the ignition of a vehicle preventing it from starting if the driver has been drinking, providing an effective physical barrier between drinking and driving.
There are various quality assurance measures to minimise users ‘cheating the system’, which include random interlock breath tests, active user tracking and reporting to the government, inability to move the device from the car and subsequent monetary penalties. The devices are highly intuitive and are programmed to each individual, making it difficult to dupe the device.
If, for example, the driver passes the initial test to start the vehicle and then fails a random retest three times, a high-pitch alarm sounds and hazard lights flash to bring attention to the car. This then generates a non-compliance record, and the driver will be recalled to the interlock service centre. In some cases the driver will be locked-out leaving the car to be towed at the driver’s expense.
Who will be affected by this new law? High-range drink driving is anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.150 or above. A repeat drink driver is someone who has committed two prescribed concentration of alcohol offences within 5 years.
When will this be in effect? Legislation will be introduced into Parliament next year, which also will provide for additional penalties for drivers who exceed their demerit point limit. Drink drivers who are convicted of a second or subsequent offence in a five year period will also be required to pass a driving knowledge test.
Additional penalties will also be introduced for drivers who exceed their demerit point limit in five years, requiring these drivers to re-sit the Driver Knowledge Test and complete a driver education course.
Did you know Alcohol is involved in approximately 20% of fatal crashes on NSW roads each year?
Alcohol related crashes are five times more likely to be fatal compared to all other crashes, resulting in horrific consequences for those involved and their loved ones. There is an alcohol interlock program operating in NSW, but it is a voluntary system and has only 700 participants.
Approximately 1 in 6 offenders reoffend within 5 years and it was time the dangerous behaviour copped the punishment it deserved.
Almost 40 per cent of drivers who faced court for low range drink driving offence in NSW received a Section 10, which means no penalty is applied.
Almost 11 people are fined every day for incorrect child restraint use, so it’s important to be aware of the New National Guidelines for child restraints that were released today. Staff from the NRMA Policy Team were there to get the news you should know.
On average, almost 11 parents in NSW have been fined and lost demerit points every day this year for not using the right restraint or incorrectly fitting a restraint for their children. And it gets worse. The number of fines has been steadily increasing each year since national laws were introduced in March 2010 and for the first time, the number of fines issued for not using the right restraint or incorrectly fitting a restraint in NSW is set to top 4,000 by the end of the year.
The guidelines have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and provide best practice recommendations on the correct use of child restraints, seating position, airbag placement and age-appropriate restraint use. They incorporate the latest research evidence and recent changes to Australian Standards.
Changes to the Australian standard for child restraints were approved in June 2013, which could mean changes to how your current child restraint is set up.
In summary, the new Australian Standard for Child Restraints includes:
Provision for the use of ISOFIX compatible child restraints in addition to current designs. These have a rigid or flexible coupling at the base of the restraint which couples to a pair of metal bars (ISOFIX anchorages) in the joint of the rear seat cushion and vertical backrest. They must be used with the top tether anchorage.
Introduction of requirements for a restraint suitable for older children up to eight-years-old with an inbuilt harness.
Introduction of requirements for a restraint suitable for children up to two to three years facing the rear of the car
Minor revisions to shoulder height markers.
Improved safety requirements for all booster seats to prevent the child sliding under the lap belt