When it comes to road rules, those in Australia must be some of the world’s most stringent. In fact, when Australians go overseas, they frequently report that in other countries, the road rules are non-existent and a form of anarchy occurs every single day.
Back home, however, despite the strictness of the laws and the general obedience of drivers, some motorists do surely test the limits of legality and safety.
But which state’s or territory’s drivers are the worst? Well that all depends on opinions, beliefs and where people live, among other factors.
Naming and shaming the worst drivers online
In this age of social media, it can be difficult to escape being immortalised online on a list of the worst drivers. Every day, countless videos are posted to YouTube and sites like Roadshamer.com, illustrating the somewhat bad behaviour of drivers behind the wheel. According to the managers of the site, around 80 videos per week are uploaded from Australian users alone. Many of the incidents are caused by poor concentration, inexperience but others are deliberate examples of reckless driving. However, using a mobile phone to record bad driving is not recommended as it can be unlawful itself and may result in dangerous driving.
Not only are mobile phones being used – often while driving – to capture the footage but the proliferation of dash cams means more drivers are becoming mobile videographers.
What makes a bad driver?
Everyone has their own opinion on what makes a person a bad driver. As for what makes the ‘worst’ drivers, it depends on your point of view e.g. as a pedestrian, a fellow driver, a learner driver, a professional driver and so on. In locations that are predominantly remote such as the Northern Territory and Western Australia, offences such as failing to give way are not as prevalent as exceeding the speed limit on highways. In metropolitan areas of capital cities, hooning represents a typical bug-bear for residents having to endure late nights of supercharged vehicular activity keeping them awake.
Driving offences - from minor to major
Even experienced drivers are unaware of some of the offences they could be committing every day, such as the driver having their arm propped on the open window of their car. This is known as ‘limb protrude’ and can result in a large fine for passengers or drivers. You can also be fined for crossing a busy intersection and not leaving room if the lights change to red. Numerous other fines that you may not have been aware of are listed here.
If asked, parents of primary school children may believe that their state’s or territory’s worst drivers are those who speed around school zones, take up loading zones to wait for their children and don’t stop at pedestrian crossings.
Then, if you ask younger drivers, they would say that the worst drivers in their state or territory are the elderly who take their time, don’t allow other drivers to pass and seem to not know where they’re going. Conversely, the elderly will insist that young drivers are too impatient, don’t respect the rules of the road and cause accidents with their erratic behaviour.
Driving under the influence and speeding
But what about the major offences? Driving while affected by drugs or alcohol is a serious offence that can result in licence cancellation for up to three years plus a hefty fine and perhaps even imprisonment. It’s why Random Breath Testing (RBT) is conducted at roadsides all over the country. Speeding offences range in severity from going 6km/hour over the limit to seemingly impossible speeds in regular road vehicles, without due care for the motoring and pedestrian public.
Even those who are unaffected by mind-altering substances can be guilty of dangerous driving. Some may deliberately go out on the roads, intent on causing mayhem. They will travel at high speeds, fail to give way, fail to stop at red lights, weave in and out of traffic, tailgate other vehicles and generally create mischief. Arguably, any state’s or territory’s worst drivers are those who deliberately seek to cause harm to others through their driving behaviours. Hooning and tearing up the roads late at night, smoking their tyres and leaving tread marks all over the bitumen is another form of behaviour that causes terrible concern for residents and other road users.
Unlicensed drivers seem to have nothing to lose
Some members of the law-abiding public can’t be blamed for feeling as though the laws on repeat offenders aren’t tough enough. In every state and territory, the worst drivers for reoffending continue to get behind the wheel, time after time. They have had their licence cancellations through drug or alcohol offences, multiple speeding offences or dangerous driving and some will have gone to jail and paid large fines. But it seems there is nothing stopping these recalcitrant drivers from continuing their behaviour. It is these people who continually defy the law but refuse to surrender their car keys because they feel entitled to be in control of a car, even if ‘being in control’ is a subjective term for such people.
‘Revenue raising’ opinions make some well behaved drivers resentful
Given that offenders such as those who keep driving while unlicensed behave with criminal intent, it’s often hard for otherwise well behaved drivers to accept that they have to pay fines when booked. In Australia, red light cameras and speeding cameras are everywhere and the revenue they generate is seen by some law-abiding drivers as excessive and unfair. It is these drivers who are caught doing something wrong at the lower end of the severity scale who believe that the heavier penalties should go to the worst drivers in their state or territory … usually the unlicensed ones who shirk their legal responsibilities.
It seems no one will ever agree on who is each state’s or territory’s worst drivers, and given that the roads are policed by state and territory authorities, it’s impossible to track down an accurate account of the worst offenders in any state or territory because none will own up to the label.
Basically, no matter where in the country you go, there are going to be excellent drivers and terrible drivers.