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  • Traffic Safety Culture in Australia: Contrasting Community Perceptions to Drink Driving & Speeding

    Presented by Mark King

    Based on material developed by Barry Watson & David Soole

    TZD Strategic Visioning Workshop

    April 2-3, 2013

    University of Minnesota

  • Queensland









    Australia Brisbane








    ACT Land area: 2.96m sq miles (USA 3.53m)

    Population: 22.3m (USA 316.7m)

  • Outline

     The role of traffic safety culture in Australia

     A comparison of drink driving (a success story) and speeding (a work in progress)

    ―Countermeasure approaches

    ―Community attitudes, perceptions and behaviors

     Lessons from Australia for the further development of the traffic safety culture concept

  • Traffic Safety Culture in Australia [1]

     Traffic safety culture (TSC) is an under-utilized concept in the Australian context

     Why TSC has failed to gain traction in Australia is unclear, but may reflect:

    ―Lack of robust theoretical model to guide TSC

    ―Strong reliance on marketing-driven public education

     Nonetheless, Australia is often seen as having a more positive TSC compared to the USA

  • Traffic Safety Culture in Australia [2]

    (Adapted from Ward et al., 2010)

    Individual Relationships Community Societal

     Structure of government and institutional arrangements (e.g. Parliamentary committees)

     Less emphasis on private industry

     Willingness for government intervention

     Government support for evidence-based policies

     Preparedness of government to consult the community

     Norms-based public education (e.g., peer targeted messages, such as designated drivers)

     Enforcement

     Engineering

     Road-user focused public education (e.g., awareness, reinforcing)

    (Adapted from Williams & Haworth, 2007)

  • Traffic Safety Culture in Australia [3]

     Many of the broad sociopolitical factors influencing TSC are historically based and difficult to change

     Some institutional factors may be open to influence by the traffic safety community in medium/ long-term (e.g., establishment of Parliamentary committees and community consultation processes)

     The area where traffic safety community has the greatest potential to directly influence TSC is through advocating for: ― General deterrence focused enforcement to target high-risk behaviors,

    supported by conventional public education

    ― Transformative public education designed to encourage behavior change at the societal level

  • Case Study 1: Drink Driving in Australia

  • Percentage of drivers and riders killed with BAC of .05 or more in Queensland: 1980-2011 (where BAC is known)



    (Source: TMR)

  • Random Breath Testing (RBT) [1]

     Primary drink driving enforcement tool

     Conducted in highly visible, intensive manner to act as a general deterrent

     Underpinned by deterrence theory

     Some states conduct the equivalent of one breath test per licensed driver per year

     Evaluations suggest RBT has produced long-term reductions in alcohol-related crashes

     Public support for RBT is extremely high (98%)

    (Homel, 1988; Henstridge et al, 1994; Hart et al, 2004; Petroulias, 2011; Watson, 2004; Watson et al, 1994)

  • RBT ‘booze bus’ and car operations

    (Source: Police/media in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria)

    Random Breath Testing (RBT) [2]

  • Random Breath Testing (RBT)[3]

    Exposure to RBT activity in previous 6 months, 1993-2011

    (Source: Petroulias, 2011)

  • Drink Driving Education/Media Campaigns

     RBT has historically been supported by high profile education/media campaigns

     Two main approaches adopted:

    – Reinforcing = reinforce purpose of enforcement (e.g., deterrence, likelihood of detection, road safety goal), educate about enforcement practices

    – Transformative = attempt to change cultural attitudes and beliefs about offending behavior, increase moral attachment to the law

  • Example of a “Reinforcing” Message

  • Examples of “Transformative” Messages [1]

  • Examples of a “Transformative” Message [2]

  • Drink Driving Attitudes [1]

     Over the last three decades, drink driving attitudes have undergone a dramatic positive shift

    – Perceived as a risky behavior

    – Socially unacceptable

     Generally attributed to introduction of RBT and associated media/education

    – But changes in general community values towards alcohol may have played a role

  • Drink Driving Attitudes [2]

    2012 2011 2010 2009 2008

    People who drink and drive are irresponsible 89% 92% 96% 96% 98%

    I plan ahead to avoid drink driving 82% 83% 84% 86% 85%

    If driving, I never drink enough to exceed legal BAC limit 74% 73% 73% 81% 79%

    There is a likelihood I’ll crash if I drink drive 72% 72% 70% 75% 77%

    I am likely to be caught by police if I drink drive 70% 68% 67% 70% 70%

    The penalties for drink driving aren’t harsh enough 67% 64% 76% 75% 67%

    I don’t drink drive because I’d be embarrassed if caught 69% 61% 64% 63% 75%

    I sometimes drink drive when I could be over the limit 16% 13% 11% 14% 19%

    (Adapted from TMR, 2012a)

    QLD drivers agreement with selected drink driving attitude statements 2008-2012

  • Where to From Here?

     Challenges still exist:

    – The reduction in alcohol-related fatalities appears to have plateaued

    – Over the last two decades, alcohol has become more readily available and binge drinking has increased

    Resulting in a countervailing influence to our traffic safety efforts

    – Need to address the broader societal role that alcohol plays in Australian culture and way of life

  • Case Study 2: Speeding in Australia

  • Speeding in Australia

     Countermeasures:

    – Automated (fixed, mobile, average speed cameras) and manual approaches (moving-mode radar, hand-held laser)

    Focus on both general and specific deterrence

    Evaluations suggest cameras reduce crashes

     Speed enforcement supported by extensive education/media campaigns

    – Reinforcing and transformative (Wilson et al., 2010)

  • Example of a “Reinforcing” Message

  • Examples of “Transformative” Message [1]

  • Example of a “Transformative” Message [2]

  • Proportion of fatalities that were speed- related in QLD, 2006-2012

    (Source: TMR, 2012b)


    24 24 24











    2006/07 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12

    P ro

    p o

    rt io



  • Attitudes Toward Speed Enforcement

    Percentage of the community who think speed enforcement should increase, decrease or stay the same, 2005-2011

    (Pennay, 2006a; 2006b; 2008; Petroulias, 2009; 2011)

    Year Increase Decrease Stay the same

    2011 35% 12% 50%

    2009 46% 6% 46%

    2008 46% 10% 42%

    2006 44% 11% 44%

    2005 42% 10% 47%

     Some resistance to change apparent in community attitudes to speeding and related enforcement

  • Attitudes Toward Speeding

    2011 2009 2008 2006 2005

    Speed limits are generally reasonable 81% 84% 84% 83% 83%

    A crash at 70km/h will be more severe than at 60km/h

    92% 92% 93% 94% 94%

    You are more likely to be involved in a crash if you increase your speed by 10km/h

    70% 75% 71% 74% 72%

    Speeding fines are mainly intended to raise revenue 62% 58% 55% 59% 56%

    It is OK to speed if you are driving safely 28% 25% 28% 26% 27%

    (Adapted from Petroulias, 2011)

    Selected general attitudes toward speeding in Australia, 2005-2011

  • Why is Speeding Different to Drink Driving?

     Recent research at CARRS-Q highlights: – Speed paradox – many people with anti-speeding attitudes reporting

    doing so on occasions

    – Due to the transient nature of speeding, drivers feel they have more control over it

    – Lower perception of risk/detection for speeders

    – Lower perceived legitimacy for speed enforcement

     Revenue raising versus traffic safety

    – Broader culture of support for speeding – or at least mixed messages (e.g. enforcement tolerances, pro-speeding advertising and social media)

    – Speeding is more social acceptable than drink driving

    – Exceeding the speed limit (even if only by a small amount) is the normative


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