Deadly truth is most people on the road can't drive

Suzuki Queensland safety program: Suzuki Queensland stages a road safety program at the Performance Driving Gold Coast.

EXPERTS declare the majority of drivers don't have the skills they need to avoid tragedy on the roads.

Taught by amateurs, most people are inept behind the wheel and are a ticking time bomb on the road.

Licencing processes have remained relatively unchanged for decades with calls for improved driver skill falling on deaf ears.

Government statistics attribute crashes to speeding, drug or alcohol use, vehicle malfunction and fatigue - but driver error is not an assessment category.

Overseas studies have found 94 per cent of crashes are caused by human error.

 

Road safety data.
Road safety data.

Race car driver and chief instructor at Norwell's Performance Driving Gold Coast facility Steve Robinson estimates 75 per cent of drivers don't possess the necessary skills.

"If I want to learn how to play golf I don't ask my mate to teach me who sends it into the creek every time. I ask a professional and he says you are holding the club wrong, your feet are wrong, your eyes are wrong your balance is wrong. I learn the skills," Robinson said.

"Driving is the only one where we say do whatever you want.

"No one has said you have to learn these skills before you can drive. Driving is the only thing where they say 'go and get taught by your parents'."

 

Driver safety training at Norwell's Performance Driving Gold Coast facility.
Driver safety training at Norwell's Performance Driving Gold Coast facility.

Gympie-based driver educators Roadcraft say governments and Australians have become complacent about the road toll and training is an "optional extra" .

"We are continually lobbying the government to rethink the licencing system," Roadcraft chief executive officer Sharlene Makin said.

"The government is telling us we don't need to change. You get your licence and it's a green light, you're good to go.

"The statistics are telling us it is clearly not working."

Apart from heavy vehicles, licence holders are able to drive most vehicles. Open licenced drivers can operate everything from a pint-sized hatchback to a fully-laded four-wheel drive towing a caravan - without any experience.

 

Driver safety training at Norwell's Performance Driving Gold Coast facility.
Driver safety training at Norwell's Performance Driving Gold Coast facility.

Automotive industry leaders have joined the call for change.

While car manufacturers have developed safety technology to protect people from themselves - including the ability to brake autonomously if the driver doesn't react in time - it's not invincible.

Suzuki Queensland general manager Steve Craig said driver training is a life skill.

"I'm really surprised it's not mandatory," he said.

"If you can put yourself into a situation, where hopefully you never get to, but at least if you have experienced it hopefully you know what to do. It's like first aid training.

"Cars are becoming so much more technically advanced, but they can only do so much."