Ford survey finds Aussies 'have forgotten how to drive' since lockdown

The manufacturer's own research claims people drive less carefully than they did before the pandemic started and are even prepared to break a few more rules

Sydney traffic
Gallery2

More than half of Aussies think other drivers have become “more erratic” since COVID-19, according to a new survey.

Research carried out by Ford Australia has found 56 per cent of the 1000 Australian drivers polled felt driving behaviour had become more unpredictable since the height of the pandemic, as if “people have forgotten how to drive after being at home”.

A fifth of Aussies also felt there seemed to be significantly more cars on the road – a feeling backed up by a record month for new car sales in April, with 92,34 sold compared to the next most successful month which was April 2016 with 87,571 sales.

RACV data too shows traffic levels in Melbourne have risen above what they were pre-Covid and urged drivers to take more caution getting back into their commuting routine.

A spokeswoman told WhichCar: "Traffic volumes on inner-city arterials like Hoddle Street, Kings Way and Punt Road are all above pre-COVID levels. Between 6am and 10am, outer suburban arterial roads are also filling up while the city's train network remains below capacity. 

"With more people on the road, this is a time for drivers to be patient, careful, and if it is possible avoid or delay driving during peak hour. As always, safety should be front of mind when getting behind the wheel."

And dodgy post-lockdown driving habits aren’t the only problem. Comparing the states, it seems depending on where you are, some drivers are more inclined to bend the rules than others.

According to the survey results, our nation’s capital is home to the highest number of rule breakers, with 18.8 per cent of Canberrans believing driving 5km over the speed limit is okay, and 18.8 per cent also admitting there are some road rules they do not know.  

Over on the opposite coast, West Australian residents are said to be the biggest speed demons, with half of respondents admitting to breaking the law and driving over the speed limit. 

By comparison, Tasmania has the country’s A+ students, with 77.8 per cent claiming to always follow the road rules when driving. 

Givewaytocyclists Ford Australia NRSW
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Unsurprisingly, Victorians have suffered the biggest impact to their driving confidence, with 18.7 per cent of respondents admitting they felt nervous on the road due to the behaviour of others.

As the state which experienced the strictest lockdown measures (42.4 per cent were most likely to stay home and rarely drove during the peak of lockdown), it might take a little while longer for Victorians to overcome their behind-the-wheel nerves.  

Every year, approximately 1200 people are killed and another 44,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads.

The research has been published by Ford ahead of National Road Safety Week 2021 which runs until Sunday, May 23.

“We’re seeing more cars on the road as people reacquaint themselves with returning to the office, and perhaps prefer private over public transport. During this transition, our driving habits must adapt to suit the increased traffic and [we must] consider differing levels of confidence behind the wheel,” said James Stewart from Driving Solutions, Ford’s Driver Education Lead.

“No matter how long you’ve had your driver’s licence, road safety is always important and new driving skills can always be learnt.” 

Ford Australia provides free driver training for new and young drivers through its Driving Skills for Life program.

Got a tip-off for a story? Get in touch: kathryn.fisk@aremedia.com.au

 

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