WHAT is it about West Australian drivers that they crash into houses at the rate of about two a week?
It’s not as if they are driving through an English village where the houses front straight onto the road. These are suburban homes with a front garden in residential streets where the speed limit is barely above walking pace.
And yet, week after week, our media carries graphic images of a car smashing into a home, sometimes with tragic consequences. Perth homes often have a bedroom at the front of the house. In many cases, the walls collapse under the impact. One such crash earlier this year saw the death of a baby when a drunk driver smashed into the bedroom.
The latest such crash involved a stolen car where the perpetrator was clearly going too fast and lost control. But we oldies can’t sit back and point the finger at the youngsters. The previous incident involved an elderly couple where the driver hit the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.
Police and university researchers are now joining forces to ask why such crashes occur with such regularity. Police have added up 195 such crashes in the two year period from May 2012 to May 2012. Researchers will not only examine the data from these records but also seek to ask questions of the drivers.
Were you drunk, speeding, inattentive, distracted or simply a bad driver?
Certainly, Western Australia fares badly on the national road toll statistics recording 7.02 road deaths per 100,000 population over the 12 months to April 2015, second only to the Northern Territory — where the open road has no speed limit.
So far this year (to May 2015), WA has 59 road fatalities.
For the Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers among us who learned our road craft on the narrow, busy streets of England, driving in Perth is a constant source of frustration.
Too often, the driver in front of me is going slowly when they should be going faster, or the driver behind me is going fast when they should be going slower. Generally, local drivers have no idea of merging onto the freeway, or of what to do at a roundabout. Queueing at traffic light intersections means a gap of a bus length between each vehicle so that just as it’s my turn to get through, the light turns to red. And don’t get me started about young drivers on their mobile phones!
But back to the number of cars crashing into houses. I just can’t fathom that one out. I will look forward to the researchers’ report.