It’s official: driving in rural Australia is very dangerous

Published: May 14, 2015

New research has shown that the number of accidents resulting in death or serious injury is disproportionately high in rural and remote areas.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says people outside the major cities have nearly twice the rate of serious road-related injury as those living in metropolitan areas.

The ABC reports that these startling statistics can be attributed to a combination of factors, including vehicle and road characteristics, transport habits, perceptions of risk, and law enforcement rates.

In country areas, for example, there are more dirt roads, more hazardous roadsides, and generally poorer road geometry. There is a greater likelihood of colliding with livestock and wildlife, and more heavy agricultural and mining vehicles on the road.

The release of the research follows a spate of recent caravan rollovers in country areas that have involved a number of grey nomads.

Data from Austroads and the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics confirms that people in rural and remote areas tend to travel longer distances than city people, and this places them at higher risk of fatigue-related accidents.

A higher percentage of crashes in rural and remote areas are attributable to fatigue, not wearing a seatbelt, speed, alcohol and driving without a licence. The fact that country drivers generally travel at higher speeds means they have a greater risk of serious injury or fatality in the event of a crash.

In terms of improving road safety in rural and remote areas, the ABC reports that removing roadside hazards and having clearer road markings have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of rural road crashes.

  • What else can be done to reduce the high rate of serious accidents on rural roads? Comment below.
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Robyn Davies
7 years ago

For those people who are not used to travelling on outback roads and are towing a caravan for the first time, maybe attending a compulsory seminar on how to manage a different and sometimes difficult environment. Obtaining skills in road safety for outback conditions, reviewing licensing requirements and participating in a caravan towing course prior to hitting the road would be a start.

7 years ago

Too right it’s more dangerous! Especially in Queensland! Have travelled Victoria and NSW where there were at least plenty of places to have a 24hr rest stop on major highways. Very few Here in Queensland. You have to travel huge distances before there is one. No wonder youre fatigued. And they arent too keen on free camping so you are virtually forced inland as the cops and residents anywhere near the coast are keen to fine you. So if you want to see the coast you travel for a day and back out to an area where you can camp. Dont get me wrong the camps in the interior are awesome! But it is travelling huge distances with barely a stop AND the locals drive like they are at Le Mans. So you always end up with at least one tailgating you unless you put your foot down. Huge distances + few road stops + stupidly high driving limits = Accidents.Have always loved Queensland but never realised how anti free camping it is here. I just feel if the highways put in 24hr stopover bays every 80km it would reduce the risk. And lowered speed limits on some roads! And had more low cost camping areas within 30km to the coast say $5 a night. Thiswould help so many local Queenslanders not just Travelers. BTW. Loads more rest stops ect above Noosa!!

4 years ago
Reply to  Didi

A contributing issue with driver fatigue is people choosing to drive well beyond their own limitations. The QLD Govt and population in general arent forcing anyone to drive beyond their limits, that’s a conscious and personal decision. There are caravan parks every few miles. Avoiding caravan park fees by driving dangerously and blaming the lack of free services isnt helpful, in fact its self serving and arrogant.


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