Drowsy drivers need to pull over as rural road deaths spike
Rarely a day goes by when Bernie Morris isn’t left gobsmacked after reviewing the deadliest of driver dash cam footage as motorists take risks on rural roads they would not in the city.
Lowes Petroleum’s General Manager of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE), Mr Morris said with over 200 drivers transporting millions of litres of fuel a year across hundreds of thousands of kilometres of rural roads the footage almost makes his heart stop.
“One of our most recent instances show a motorcycle barely missing a fuel tanker head-on after breaking multiple road rules,” he said.
“It’s crazy what our drivers go through. We have even had footage where it is obvious the person a has pretty much fallen asleep before waking in the nick of time.
“The figures from the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) are shocking of how many drivers admitted to not only driving drowsy, but have experienced terrifying moments of microsleep, where they were awake but unable to recall driving. It is equally shocking how many drivers do not plan for rest stops.”
The leading regional fuel transporter has again pledged its support behind National Rural Road Safety Month creating events at their rural depots, with a quirky inflatable fuel truck, to encourage conversations about our driving on rural roads.
The ARSF’s Rural Road Safety Month, is an annual national awareness campaign highlighting awareness of risky driver behaviour on rural roads.
Mr Morris said Lowes Petroleum took rural road safety personally with almost its entire operation, 500 plus people, regionally based.
“We know from personal experience, when one of our long-time customers died in a car crash a few years ago, just how much a road death impacts communities,” Mr Morris said.
“It is not an exaggeration to say almost everyone shares the pain: pain that resonates through the community for years.
“The statistics show rural road deaths account for more road deaths than in metropolitan centres. Even more disturbing the figures don’t include private property deaths nor those who later die from a cause relating back to that car accident. Equally shocking are figures for people who are left with lifetime injuries.
“Most of us go to work each day knowing that our immediate workspace is a safe environment for us to work in. Our drivers don't have that luxury: everyday road conditions, the weather, vehicle issues and the public create dangerous work environments.
“Our drivers make hundreds of risk decisions daily to ensure that they, and others around them, remain safe. Often there’s a perception that driving on country roads has less risk: that perception is wrong.
“We need to change the mindset of motorists and curb complacency and change these statistics.”
The Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) has revealed clear driver disregard for safety on regional roads.
Despite fewer than a third of Australia's population residing outside major ciities, deaths on rural roads accounted for almost two thirds of last year's road toll.
Of the 1188 Australian road deaths acros the last 12 months, 773 (65 per cent) occured on rural roads compared to 415 (35 per cent) were recorded in metropolitan areas.
The main reasons drivers are more likely to break a road rule when in rural areas: Believing it was safe to do so (27 per cent), being distracted (19 per cent) and trusting they won't get caught by police or cameras (9 per cent).
Lowes is a sponsor of the Henty Machinery Field Days.