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Australia’s strict speeding fines could be increasing the road death toll

    ByPeter Devlin For Daily Mail Australia

    18:36 EST, 1 December 2016 | 20:03 EST, 1 December 2016

    Australia’s strict speed enforcement may actually be increasing the risk of car crashes, according to new research.

    Stringent policing could have a negative impact on road safety because motorists are paying more attention to checking their speed than watching for hazards, the study found.

    Using a driving simulator, researchers from the University of Western Australia tested 84 participants to see if reducing the speed enforcement thresholds would alter a driver’s visual and mental abilities.

    Australia's strict speed enforcement may actually be increasing the risk of car crashes, according to new research (stock image) Australia's strict speed enforcement may actually be increasing the risk of car crashes, according to new research (stock image)

    Australia’s strict speed enforcement may actually be increasing the risk of car crashes, according to new research (stock image)

    Participants were told they could be fined for driving one, six or 11 kilometres per hour over a 50 kilometre speed limit.

    Their reaction to small red dots appearing in their peripheral vision was measured.

        The study, published last month, found driver’s given a one kilometre per hour enforcement threshold were less likely to see objects outside their line of sight.

        An author of the study, Dr Vanessa Bowden said: ‘Our overall finding was that stricter speed enforcement may impair a driver’s ability to detect hazards, especially those on the side of the road, because drivers are dedicating more attention to monitoring their speed.

        Stringent policing could have a negative impact on road safety because motorists are paying more attention to checking their speed than watching for hazards (stock image) Stringent policing could have a negative impact on road safety because motorists are paying more attention to checking their speed than watching for hazards (stock image)

        Stringent policing could have a negative impact on road safety because motorists are paying more attention to checking their speed than watching for hazards (stock image)

        The study found driver's given a one kilometre per hour enforcement threshold were less likely to see objects outside their line of sight (stock image) The study found driver's given a one kilometre per hour enforcement threshold were less likely to see objects outside their line of sight (stock image)

        The study found driver’s given a one kilometre per hour enforcement threshold were less likely to see objects outside their line of sight (stock image)

        ‘In reality the effects of strictly enforced speed limits could be even greater than in our study, with real-world drivers experiencing greater pressures to drive at or above the posted speed limit.’

        Participants were also asked to answer a questionnaire asking how difficult they found the test.

        Those with a stricter speed enforcement found the experience more demanding.

        This comes as Australia’s national road toll is up 7.6 percent from last year.

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