Road safety and crime


The relationships between motoring offences, crime and society are briefly discussed, with particular emphasis on attitudes towards, and images of, motoring offenders. The international road safety situation is examined in terms of an analysis of road death and road injury rates for seventeen countries, including Australia, over the period 1968-1976.

This paper looks at the studies already made in Australia and other countries of the relationship between alcohol, drugs and road safety and concludes that both alcohol and drugs have been found to be correlated as major factors in deaths and injuries on the road. For the purposes of this paper, the probability of road deaths and injuries being a species of the genus of social violence was considered. Thus the rates for death and injuries on the road are compared to those for murder offences, a consistently defined category of serious violent crime, to test the hypothesis that violent crime will be high in those societies where road deaths and injuries are most frequent.

Australia's road safety situation is described following an analysis of state road death and road injury data for the decade 1968-1977. Finally, road safety legislation, enforcement and penalties in Australia are reviewed, with attention being devoted to attempts at deterring motorists from drinking and driving. The paper concludes that alternative diversionary measures have the potential to reduce the incidence of such behaviour and thus reduce death and injury on Australian roads.

This publication is a compilation of the evidence presented by the two authors to the Australian Commonwealth Government House of Representatives Standing Committee on Road Safety. This Committee was conducting a special inquiry into Alcohol, Drugs and Road Safety and invited submissions.