RACV: International drivers 'a bigger crash risk'

Sen-Sgt Darren Wittingslow, of Wangaratta police, says the local region does not appear to have significant issues with international drivers. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Sen-Sgt Darren Wittingslow, of Wangaratta police, says the local region does not appear to have significant issues with international drivers. Picture: TARA GOONAN

INTERNATIONAL drivers are posing a greater crash risk than local drivers, according to the RACV.

The company’s road user behaviour manager Melinda Spiteri said more needed to be done to reduce the involvement of foreign drivers in car crashes.

Visitors are at particular risk when they first arrive, are more likely to be injured as pedestrians and are over-represented in claims on a per visitor basis, Mrs Spiteri said.

“One-third of visitors drive while in Australia and approximately 20 per cent rent a car, campervan or four-wheel-drive,” she said.

“While international visitors account for less than 1 per cent of fatalities, RACV believes more can be done to ensure road safety information is readily available in English and other languages.”

But Sen-Sgt Darren Wittingslow, of Wangaratta police, said the region did not appear to have significant issues with foreign motorists.

“The issue seems to be greater in places like the Great Ocean Road, where people have jumped off planes, gotten into cars and gone to see the tourist attractions,” he said.

“People are also not really aware of the distances involved and it really just is about having that awareness.

“Muscle memory also tends to kick in where people look for traffic from the wrong direction.”

Sen-Sgt Wittingslow said studies by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety showed visitors did not present a significant problem on Australian roads.

“But the studies did note that visitors can have a higher crash rate when they first arrive, mainly due to fatigue and disorientation,” he said.

“Of course, when visitors come to a new country there is going to be heightened risks until they adjust, which these studies back up.”

Ms Spiteri said it was vital visitors had easy access to all the information they needed. More than 2 million international residents visited Victoria last year, according to the RACV.

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