Education vital for local, visiting drivers

The tourism boom in Tasmania is helping transform our economy but with it comes challenges.

Road safety is one of them.

International drivers unfamiliar with our roads and our rules are increasingly under the spotlight and locals are complaining.

We all hear stories of slow drivers, inattention, dangerous overtaking – and impatience, anger and dangerous driving by others as a result.

Sound familiar?

Yes, we have the same problems with local drivers on both sides of that equation.

The Road Safety Advisory Council has a range of marketing material at airports, rental car companies, local councils and tourism operators.

The website, www.rsac.tas.gov.au, helps visitors better understand Tasmanian road conditions.

The reputation of our booming tourism sector depends not just on great scenery, great attractions, and friendly locals, but on safety as well.

And that’s the responsibility of every road user – visitor or local.

It’s also important to put community concerns about international drivers into perspective.

Research published by the Department of State Growth in June 2015 showed that:

  • There were 1249 serious casualty crashes in Tasmania between 2010 and 2014;
  • 115 involved interstate tourists; 
  • and 16 involved international tourists

So, the focus must be on all visitors, not just those from overseas.

In 2017 – a boom year for Tasmanian tourism – there was one international visitor seriously injured.

Our worst year was 2015 when two non-Australian residents died and seven were seriously injured.

In the five years from 2013 to 2017, six non-Australian residents were killed on our roads and 19 seriously injured.

That’s 25 out of 1516 serious casualties on our roads in that time.

Of course, that’s 25 too many.

Dealing with visiting drivers on our roads doesn’t just require action by government, it required patience and consideration by local drivers as well. 

That, after all, has been the key message in The Examiner’s In Your Hands road safety campaign.

That was admirably reinforced in the editorial of February 12.

Any Tasmanian who has travelled overseas knows how tough driving in a foreign land can be.

They should therefore have some understanding of the challenges facing international visitors.

Educating visitors about driving in Tasmania is a key element in making our roads safer for everyone.

But so is educating Tasmanians in making sure their own behaviour doesn’t kill or injure.

A key road safety message is that you drive to the conditions. Those conditions include unfamiliar roads.

So when you next encounter a vehicle driven by an international or interstate visitor – assuming you are certain they are – they may well be doing the right thing by driving safely according to the conditions that confront them.

This makes the roads safer for all.

  • Garry Bailey is Chair of the Road Safety Advisory Council 
  • The Examiner’s In Your Hands road safety campaign was launched in December 2017 in a bid to create safer driving behaviours in Tasmania