The Coffs Coast Advocate

Driving to distraction

YOU'RE more likely to hit by an absent-minded driver on the Coffs Coast than any other kind, according to a new report.

The 2008 AAMI Crash Index found one-third of car crashes on the Mid North Coast could be averted by drivers simply paying more attention.

AAMI corporate affairs manager, Mike Sopinski, said while speed, fatigue and alcohol are factors in 40 per cent of Mid North Coast car crashes, research shows absent-mindedness is the number one reason drivers give for crashing into another vehicle.

“While governments and the police can discourage speeding and drink driving through education and enforcement, it's impossible to legislate against absent-mindedness,” Mr Sopinksi said.

Psychologist John Cheetham said the high number of drivers attributing crashes to inattention was symptomatic of a driving culture that is mindful of everything but driving.

“The lifestyles of working professionals, stay-at-home parents and even secondary and tertiary students is such that when they get in their car they have a tendency to go into auto-pilot, leaving them free to focus on everything else that is happening in their lives when they should be thinking about their driving,” Mr Cheetham said.

The AAMI report also showed that speed, fatigue and alcohol were still major factors in crashes.

In 2008, 19 per cent of Mid North Coast drivers attributed crashes to speed while nine per cent said fatigue was the reason.

But more worrying is the number of drivers who persist in illegal and dangerous behaviour.

One in eight drivers said they exceeded the speed limit 'most of the time', more than one third admitted driving when they knew they were over .05 and eight per cent have taken a different route home after drinking to avoid being breathalysed.

Almost half of the drivers who have had their license cancelled or suspended attributed it to speeding and drink driving.

One in six insurance claims in 2007 resulted from drivers hitting stationary objects.

2008 AAMI Crash Index

Absent-mindedness 33%

Speeding 19%

Fatigue 9%

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