Western Australians have become concerningly distracted when driving, with some drivers applying their makeup, reading the newspaper, and eating their breakfast, according to the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (RAC) Roadside Assistance Patrols' recent survey.
The survey asked RAC patrols about driver behaviour, WA road conditions, experiences on the job, and what motorists vent about during a callout.
It found that 74% of RAC patrols have seen an increase in distracted driving over the past two years, while 63% have seen a rise in driver frustration.
“Our patrols are seeing drivers regularly sending messages and making calls behind the wheel,” said Rhys Heron, senior manager, communications, RAC. “Shockingly, some drivers are going even further – applying make-up, reading the newspaper, shaving, or even having breakfast while driving.”
The survey revealed that 91% of RAC patrols have experienced a near-miss while attending a breakdown, with nearly 30% having a close call every month.
In 2018, Slow Down Move Over (SLOMO) was introduced, requiring motorists passing stationary emergency-response vehicles, including RAC patrols, to slow down to 40km/h and, if possible, move another lane.
“This is a timely reminder of the importance of SLOMO law and making sure we are looking out for each other, including those who call the roadside their place of work,” Heron said.
The survey respondents further revealed what Western Australian drivers commonly vent about and unique situations they have witnessed when arriving at a callout.
RAC Roadside Patrol Mark Dring said 18% of patrols have driven an RAC member to an important event like their wedding or a job interview.
“We know breaking down in any circumstance is an inconvenience, let alone when West Aussies are making their way to a major event. Helping our members arrive safely at their destination is one of the perks of the job,” he said. “We all have the right to feel safe on the roads, so please look after yourself and your fellow road users by ditching the distractions, practising patience, and focusing on the drive.”
In Queensland, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) has called on motorists in the state to be careful when driving, noting that 297 people lost their lives on the state's roads in 2022.