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Four-wheel-drive owners are so arrogant and aggressive behind the wheel that 70 per cent of Australian motorists do not feel safe sharing the roads with them.

Almost half of the 1880 drivers who took part in a new national survey wanted four-wheel-drives banished from city streets, while 39 per cent of four-wheel-drive owners acknowledged their vehicles were probably dangerous to other motorists.

Thirty per cent of four-wheel-drivers also admitted to talking on mobile phones - without a hands-free kit - compared to 17 per cent of other drivers, the survey for insurer AAMI found.

An AAMI spokeswoman, Selina O'Connor, said the results showed that despite the growing popularity of four-wheel-drives, most drivers were not convinced they were safe for Australian roads.

Four-wheel-drives make up about 20 per cent of new car sales, according to recent figures.

Ms O'Connor said the survey found most owners lived in the city. Only a quarter listed their main reason for buying a four-wheel-drive as a desire to go off-road exploring.

"Six in 10 drivers of regular vehicles said they believed four-wheel-drives should have special licensing requirements due to their different handling and safety considerations," she said. "One in three four-wheel-drivers agreed with their sentiments."

Australian Transport Safety Bureau figures show that over the nine years to 1998, the number of fatal four-wheel-drive crashes rose 85 per cent.

The committee chairman of Staysafe, Paul Gibson, said special licences for four-wheel-drive owners were being considered in NSW.

"We hear many concerns that people feel intimidated by four-wheel-drives,"
he said. "Dedicated licences are definitely something we have looked at, and will look at again."

The NSW Roads and Safety Authority is discussing the option of restricting young drivers to vehicles below a specific power-to-weight ratio. NRMA road safety specialist Anne Morphett said this option could include large four-wheel-drives.

"Four-wheel-drives have a very different centre of gravity to regular cars (and) heavy four-wheel-drives could be a problem for young drivers," she said.



MEDIA RELEASE

 

Embargoed to: 5 am, 28 September 2004

 

Half of Australian drivers say 4WDs don’t belong in the city

Half of Australian drivers (48 per cent) believe that four-wheel-drives do not belong in city areas, according to a recent survey of 1880 licensed drivers* by general insurer of the year AAMI.**

 

The figures show that despite the popularity of four-wheel-drives, not all drivers are convinced they are good for Australian roads, according to Geoff Hughes, AAMI Public Affairs Manager.

 

“Women drivers 55 and older were most likely to believe that four-wheel-drives don’t belong in city areas: 60 per cent of this group felt this way, which shows that clearly some drivers feel intimidated by these larger vehicles.”

 

While four-wheel-drives may be safe for the occupants, seven in 10 Australian drivers (70 per cent) of regular cars felt that they are more dangerous for other road users. 

 

Even four in 10 (39 per cent) four-wheel-drivers themselves agreed their vehicles are more dangerous to other road users.

 

These findings are supported by Australian Transport Safety Bureau figures, which show that in crashes involving four-wheel-drives and regular vehicles, the people in regular vehicles accounted for most fatalities (64 per cent). Four-wheel-drive occupants suffered a significantly lower proportion of fatalities (18 per cent).

 

“The survey showed that almost half of regular drivers (46 per cent) felt that four-wheel-drivers were more arrogant and aggressive on the roads than other motorists. One in six four-wheel-drivers (17 per cent) agreed with this statement,” said Mr Hughes.

 

Three in 10 four-wheel-drivers (29 per cent) said they often use their mobile phone without a hands-free kit while driving, compared with just 17 per cent of other drivers.

 

The AAMI survey showed that six in 10 four-wheel-drivers (59 per cent) live in metropolitan areas.

 

“Six in 10 drivers of regular vehicles (59 per cent) said they believed four-wheel-drives should have special licensing requirements due to their different handling and safety considerations,” said Mr Hughes.

 

“One in three (28 per cent) four-wheel-drivers agreed that four-wheel-drives should have special licensing requirements.”

______________________________________________________________________

* The AAMI research data excludes Western Australia and the Northern Territory, as AAMI does not operate in those areas. National figures refer to New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The survey, which was commissioned by AAMI and conducted by Sweeney Research in 2004, included telephone interviews with 1880 licensed drivers in Australia.

 ** Leading car and home insurer AAMI was awarded “General Insurer of the Year” at the inaugural Australia and New Zealand insurance industry awards in July this year.

According to the survey, one-quarter of four-wheel-drive owners reported that the main reason for their purchase was off-road exploring.

 

“Other reasons for the purchase included ‘more space and room for occupants’ (17 per cent); ‘towing’ (21 per cent); ‘work reasons’ (14 per cent); and five per cent said it was because they are ‘safer’.”

 

 

Fast Facts on Four-Wheel Drives

·         In general, 4WDs reduce the risk of injury for their occupants but raise the risk facing everyone else for other road users, according to a Monash Accident Research Centre report[1].

·         In 4WD crashes involving multiple vehicles, regular car occupants accounted for the largest proportion of fatalities (64 per cent). 4WD occupants accounted for a significantly lower proportion of fatalities (18 per cent)[2].

·         The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries forecasts automotive sales to reach the record of 960,000 by year’s end, higher than last year’s 909,811 record[3].

·         In August 2004, 79,244 motor vehicles were sold – 3071 vehicles more or four per cent higher than the previous August record in 2003[4].

·         The three new 4WD models by Ford, Holden and Toyota have accounted for 97 per cent of the growth in the medium 4WD segment, which is up by more than 50 per cent this year[5].

 

ENDS

 

 

For media interviews, contact: Geoff Hughes, AAMI Manager Public Affairs, 03 8520 1469 or 0413 483 591

 



[1] Monash University Accident Centre, “Vehicle crashworthiness and aggressivity ratings and crashworthiness by year of vehicle manufacture: Victoria and NSW crashes during 1987-2000, Queensland and Western Australia crashes during 1991-2000” Stuart Newstead, Max Cameron, Linda Watson, and Amanda Delaney, January 2003

[2] Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Monograph 11 (ATSB Series) – “Four Wheel Drive Crashes” 2002

[3] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04, www.autoindustries.com.au/sales/2004/8/

[4] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04, www.autoindustries.com.au/sales/2004/8/

[5] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04, www.autoindustries.com.au/sales/2004/8/


 

FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE FACTS (issued September 2004)

Fast facts

·                     In 1980, one in 50 new vehicle purchases was a 4WD [1], which in 1990 increased to one in 12 new vehicle purchases[2].

·                     In 2004, one in five new vehicle purchases is a 4WD and most new sales are in urban areas. Australians buy more 4WDs than Commodores and Falcons[3].

·                     The 4WD market of 114,897 vehicles is now 14.3 per cent larger (or 14,415 vehicles), year to date[4].

·                     The popularity of 4WDs is attributed to affluent suburban families who use them as substitutes for passenger cars[5].

·                     The introduction of three new 4WD models by Ford, Holden and Toyota has accounted 97 per cent of growth in the medium 4WD segment, which increased by more than 50 per cent in 2004[6].

·                     4WD medium segment, up by 13,298 units (54.3 per cent)[7]

·                     4WD luxury segment, up by 1962 units (26.3 per cent)[8]

·                     4WD compact segment, up by 114 units (0.2 per cent)[9].

·                     4WD large segment, down by 959 units (-5.5 per cent)[10].

 

Driver attitudes and behaviour

·                     Seventy per cent of drivers of regular vehicles feel 4WDs are more dangerous for other road users[11] – 39 per cent of 4WD-owners agreed.[12]

·                     Almost half of regular drivers (46 per cent) felt that 4WD-owners were more arrogant and aggressive on the roads than other motorists[13] – 17 per cent) of 4WD-owners agreed[14].

·                     Half of Australian drivers (48 per cent) believe that 4WDs do not belong in city areas[15].

·                     Six in 10 4WD-owners (59 per cent) live in metropolitan areas.

·                     Six in 10 drivers of regular vehicles (59 per cent) said that 4WDs should have special licensing requirements because of their different handling and safety requirements.  One in three (28 per cent) 4WD-owners agreed.

·                     The reasons given for purchasing 4WDs were: off-road exploring (25 per cent), more space and room for occupants (17 per cent), towing (21 per cent), work reasons (14 per cent) and ‘safety’ (5 per cent)

·                     Three in 10 (29 per cent) 4WD-owners said they often use their mobile phone without a hands-free kit while driving, compared with 17 per cent of others


Road safety facts

·                     Generally 4WDs reduce risk of injury for their occupants but increase risks for other road users[16].

·                     In 4WD crashes involving multiple vehicles, regular car occupants accounted for the largest proportion of fatalities (64 per cent). 4WD occupants accounted for a significantly lower proportion of fatalities (18 per cent)[17].

·                     For every 1000 crashes in which they are involved, 32 drivers of 4WDs were killed or hospitalised. For every 1000 crashes in which drivers of medium-sized cars were involved, 36 were killed or hospitalised[18].

·                     For every 1000 crashes involving 4WDs, 32 drivers of other vehicles were killed or hospitalised. Only 21 other drivers were killed in or hospitalised after an accident with a medium-sized car[19].

·                     By buying a 4WD instead of a medium-sized car, your risk of death or serious injury in a crash falls by four in 1000[20].

·                     If you have a crash in a 4WD rather than a medium-size car, the chance you will kill or hospitalise another other driver increases by 11 in 1000[21].

·                     Almost 90 per cent of children killed in NSW driveways in 1998 were run over by 4WDs or large commercial vehicles[22].

 

Summary of opinions on 4WDs (anecdotal)

·                     It is claimed that 4WD owners believe 4WDs are “spacious status-symbols, metal fortresses, badges of virility and tickets to outback adventure”[23].

·                     Today's 4WDs have “met consumer demands and moved closer to passenger cars in refinement, comfort, performance and handling”[24].

·                     The popularity of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) is attributed to their versatility. For example, seating options and capacity, ability to carry more gear, tow heavier loads and drive on a variety of different roads to a wider range of places, with lack of “sporty handling” their only perceived disadvantage[25].

·                     Drivers of regular vehicles claim 4WDs are “gas-guzzling, selfish trumped up kid-carriers and dangerous nuisances that have no place on city roads”[26].

·                     Women who say they intend to buy compact 4WDs have grown by almost 60 per cent during the past four years[27].

·                     Lifestyle factors have influenced sales of 4WDs i.e. popularity of recreational equipment (such as mountain bikes, jet skis, boats and caravans) and an increase in the number of citydwellers who are buying country weekend properties[28].




[1] Four-wheel drives might be safer for owners, but not for others on the road’, Online Opinion, 09/07/03

[2] ‘The fours factor’, Sun-Herald, 02/04/02

[3] Four-wheel drives might be safer for owners, but not for others on the road”, Online Opinion, 09/07/03

[4] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04

[5] ‘The fours factor’, Sun-Herald, 02/04/02

[6] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04

[7] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04

[8] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04

[9] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04

[10] VFACTS Industry Summary, 08/04

[11] Survey of 1880 licensed drivers in Australia, commissioned by AAMI and conducted by Sweeney Research in 2004

[12] Survey of 1880 licensed drivers in Australia, commissioned by AAMI and conducted by Sweeney Research in 2004

[13]Survey of 1880 licensed drivers in Australia, commissioned by AAMI and conducted by Sweeney Research in 2004

[14]Survey of 1880 licensed drivers in Australia, commissioned by AAMI and conducted by Sweeney Research in 2004

[15]Survey of 1880 licensed drivers in Australia, commissioned by AAMI and conducted by Sweeney Research in 2004

 

[16] Monash University Accident Centre, Vehicle crashworthiness and aggressivity ratings and crashworthiness by year of vehicle manufacture: Victoria and NSW crashes during 1987-2000, Queensland and Western Australia crashes during 1991-2000, Stuart Newstead, Max Cameron, Linda Watson, and Amanda Delaney, January 2003

[17] Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Monograph 11 (ATSB Series) – ‘Four Wheel Drive Crashes’ 2002

[18]Four-wheel drives might be safer for owners, but not for others on the road”, Online Opinion, 09/07/03

[19] Four-wheel drives might be safer for owners, but not for others on the road”, Online Opinion, 09/07/03

[20]Four-wheel drives might be safer for owners, but not for others on the road”, Online Opinion,  09/07/03

[21]Four-wheel drives might be safer for owners, but not for others on the road”, Online Opinion, 09/07/03

[22] ‘Off-roaders drive home deadly message”, Australian, 08/04/00

[23] ‘Monsters of the road’, Age, 13/07/04

[24] ‘Love’em, loathe’em’, Sydney Morning Herald, 09/03/04

[25] ‘Love’em, loathe’em’, Sydney Morning Herald, 09/03/04

[26] ‘Monsters of the road’, Age, 13/07/04

[27] ‘What women want’, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/06/04

[28] ‘Love’em, loathe ’em’, Sydney Morning Herald, 09/03/04