CR 213: Community Attitudes to Road Safety: Community Attitudes Survey Wave 15 (2002)


This is the fifteenth in a series of surveys of community attitudes and perceptions towards a range of road safety issues. Findings from this 2002 Community Attitudes Survey (CAS 15) were derived from telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,563 Australian residents aged 15 years and over. The survey was conducted in March and April 2002, and the effective response rate was 63%. A summary of the main findings from the 2002 survey, along with a description of emerging trends and patterns, is provided below. More detailed results are provided in the main body of this report.

The results from the current survey provide a snapshot of community perceptions across a range of road safety issues. Data from this and past surveys provide a view of changes in community attitudes over time.

Main Trends and Comparisons - Overall

The Australian community continues to identify speed as the single most likely cause of road crashes. When asked to identify the main factor that leads to road crashes, 37% say speed, more than three times the number that say either drink driving (11%) or driver fatigue (11%).

When asked to name up to three crash factors, over half the community include speed (62%) and drink driving (52%) in their list, and one in three include driver fatigue (33%).

The research continues to show a growing awareness of the dangers of speeding and increasing evidence of a shift in attitudes across a range of speed related questions (see Section 1.5). Although a substantial minority of respondents still give answers that indicate a permissive attitude to speeding and speed limits, a clear majority of respondents give non-permissive answers to most of these questions. For example, 87% of respondents now support speed enforcement tolerances of less than 10 km/h in urban 60 km/h zones, and 91% of licence holders agree that ‘an accident at 70 km/h will be a lot more severe than an accident at 60km/h’. However, 32% of respondents still agree with the statement that ‘it is okay to speed if you are driving safely’. Support for a 50 km/hr limit in residential areas remains strong (72%).

Despite widespread recognition of the risks associated with speeding, the community is less willing to accept the need for speed enforcement, in comparison with its support for drink driving enforcement. Support for random breath testing is almost universal (now 97%), while more than half (56%) agree that ‘fines for speeding are mainly intended to raise revenue’.

This reluctance to endorse speed enforcement may be linked to driver behaviour, with more people admitting to speeding than drink driving. This is most evident when comparing the extremes of speed and drink driving behaviour. The proportion who say they mostly or always ‘drive at 10 km/h or more over the speed limit’ (9%) is an order of magnitude larger than the number who agree that ‘If I am driving I do not restrict what I drink’ (1%).

The community exhibits a growing recognition of the contribution of driver fatigue to road crashes, with 11% identifying fatigue as the main cause of crashes and one in three (33%) including fatigue in their list of the three main causes of road crashes. Awareness of fatigue as a crash factor is highest among those aged 25 to 39 years (39%) and among those aged 15-24 years (37%).

In many cases this awareness of fatigue as a crash factor may be based on actual experience, with 15% of license holders recalling having fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. Among these, 9% said they had an accident as a result. Males (24%) are more than three times more likely than females (7%) to have ever fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. More than six in ten drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel (63%) recall doing so just once, most commonly on a country trip lasting over two hours. However, one in three of those who recall falling asleep at the wheel say they were on a trip of less than one hour.

Download Complete Document: Attit_Safety_15 [PDFPDF: 763 KB]

Type: Research and Analysis Report
Sub Type: Consultant Report
Author(s): Mitchell-Taverner P
ISBN: 0 642 25515 6
ISSN: 1445-4467
Topics: Comm attitudes
Publication Date: 01/12/02