ADJOURNMENT DEBATE ON INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS

My adjournment matter tonight is for the attention of the Minister for Road Safety and the TAC, and it concerns the ever-present danger caused largely by tourist drivers along the Great Ocean Road and their lack of understanding of Victorian road rules.

Last Friday I attended a community meeting in Apollo Bay, where I heard from constituents who are affected by this danger on a daily basis. A bus driver who witnesses up to four near-miss crashes every trip between Geelong and Apollo Bay said, 'It’s like playing Russian roulette every day when I go to work’, and he blames the hire companies for lending people 'these missiles’.

VicRoads reports that currently tourist drivers comprise 21 percent of crashes along the Great Ocean Road. This figure would obviously be higher if all crashes were included and not just those where ambulances are called. Tourists arriving in Victoria often hire a car or a minibus. They proceed down the Great Ocean Road with little or no knowledge of Australian road rules or even basic driving skills.

Many of the crashes are caused through drivers driving on the wrong side of the road, despite signs directing drivers to keep left. The government’s current solution is a DL flyer welcoming safe drivers. It does suggest that drivers get to know the road rules. Clearly this is not working.

The Great Ocean Road is visited by about 5 million tourists per year—more than Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef combined. While we do not wish to reduce the volume of tourists, we must ensure our roads are safe for everyone, especially my local constituents who live and drive in fear of being the next victim.

So on behalf of those concerned communities along the Great Ocean Road, I call on the Minister for Road Safety and the TAC to take responsibility for this life-threatening matter by holding car companies to account for their drivers’ breaches of Victorian road rules. This would ensure that hire companies take proper measures to guarantee that tourists have the necessary driving ability and a thorough understanding of our road rules.

21 February 2019