One in three motorists speed: study

A NEW report has found that speeding is the most common mistake made by Aussie drivers.

The next time one of those accursed safety cameras catches you speeding, don’t be too hard on yourself. According to new research, it’s the most common vice among Australian drivers.

The AustRoads research report released yesterday titled The Nature of Errors Made by Drivers found that in an on-road test of 25 drivers, 298 instances of human error were recorded, an average of 12 for each test.

However, of those errors, speeding – intentional or otherwise, according to the report – constituted one in three errors made by drivers.

Researchers fitted a Monash University Accident Research Centre test car with sensors and recording devices that allowed them to capture driver behaviour in detail, including where they were looking when behind the wheel.

The data reveals that the second most common form of driver error was changing lanes without indicating after turning a corner, followed by either using the indicator too early or not at all while changing lanes, and travelling too fast for a turn.

Surprisingly, of the almost 300 instances of human error recorded in the tests, 98 are claimed to constitute road rule violations – most of which, the researchers note, related to speeding – while full licence holders were more prone to speeding than probationary drivers.

More than half the errors made occurred at intersections, which the research report identified as “problematic with regard to road traffic crashes”.

On a positive note, the study shows that “unclear rules and regulations or inappropriate or poor road and infrastructure design” had contributed to driver error.

These included “speed signs being placed at merge locations leading drivers to miss them and consequently exceed the speed limit, pedestrian crossings being placed at high workload segments of the roadway such as slip lanes, and high traffic intersections not being fully signalled leading to conflicts with other vehicles and pedestrians when turning”.

Instances where the driver made errors relating to using indicators were simply put down to “driver confusion over the road rules”.

Because making mistakes appears to be only partly due to drivers, researchers have recommended that the term ‘‘driver error’’ be dropped, and instead replaced with either the terms “driving error” or “road system error” to recognise that other factors may contribute.

The report, which will be presented to government roads and traffic authorities throughout Australia and New Zealand, recommends that the study expand to a wider group of drivers and roads to help determine the extent of “error causing failures” across the transport system.

It says the research will also promote the development of in-car technologies that help drivers including intelligent speed adaptation that helps drivers stick to speed limits, and intelligent transport systems that allows vehicles to “talk” with each other.

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