Great Ocean Road challenges overseas drivers

REGULAR reports of international visitors ignoring road rules in the Great Ocean Road region reinforces a new RACV study which found more should be done to reduce road crashes.

“They ignore all the basic rules,” a Port Campbell police spokesman said yesterday.

“We often get calls about erratic driving — cars overtaking on double lines on bends.

“The most common offences are failing to wear seatbelts, ignoring stop and give-way signs, failing to indicate and parking on the wrong side of the road,” he said. “It happens all year round.”

RACV road user behaviour manager Melinda Spiteri said international travellers could be particularly vulnerable because of their lack of familiarity with surroundings.

She said they faced the challenges of driving on a different side of the road, signage in a different language, different rules, substandard roads and susceptibility to fatigue.

“Victoria has strict driving rules and as a temporary driver, visitors will still be subject to the same traffic penalties as locals, so more targeted communication messages are needed,” Ms Spiteri said.

The study identified the highest numbers of international tourists were from New Zealand, China, United Kingdom, United States, Malaysia and Singapore. According to the Port Campbell police spokesman, most infringements involved  visitors used to left-hand-drive vehicles and relaxed traffic rules.

He said Asian drivers particularly took undue risks by landing in Melbourne, hiring a car then driving to Port Campbell before driving back to Melbourne to catch another flight.

“They don’t realise the distance and time involved,” he said. “We urge all drivers to be extra careful — don’t assume everyone will be on the correct side of road.”

Earlier this year a  visitor who crossed double lines on a blind corner near Princetown caused another car and motorcycles to take emergency evasive action.

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