ACT News

More Canberrans speed and risk drink-driving than other states, report finds

Canberra leads the nation for the number of people speeding, risking possible drink-driving, and being hospitalised due to traffic accidents, a new report has found.

Two-thirds of Canberrans who drove in the past six months sped at least 10 kilometres above the speed limit. This amount was higher than any other state or territory and about 10 per cent above the national average.

Nearly one-in-10 motorists got behind the wheel when possibly over the alcohol limit "rarely" or more often, while 7 per cent of all Australians did the same.

The figures were revealed on Friday in the Productivity Commission report on the performance of Australian governments.

The capital had the second most hospitalisations due to traffic accidents, at 282 per 100,000 registered vehicles. This was 23 per cent above Australia's average.

Police expressed the need for more action to address bad driving behaviour in the capital and were concerned about its rising road toll.

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According to the Productivity Commission report, Canberra had the lowest number of road deaths per 100,000 registered vehicles in 2014-15 at 3.5.

However, an ACT Policing spokesperson said the spike in road fatalities across the Christmas break contributed to a 50 per cent increase of road tolls in 2015, bumping the year's total to 15.

"Many of the collisions we see in the ACT could be avoided," they said.

Despite the report highlighting the concerning number of Canberrans speeding, the spokesperson said fewer people were being caught.

"There were 3798 TINS [traffic infringement notices] issued for speeding in 2015 and 4850 TINS in 2014," they said.

Police Minister Simon Corbell stressed that reckless driving in Canberra "has to stop," pointing to two people who were caught riding at more than 200km/h in December.

"This sort of behaviour puts innocent people at risk," he said.

In other crime, the report stated that Canberra had the second highest rate of sexual assault victims per 100,000 people at an estimated 452.

It also had the second highest estimated rate of break-in victims at 3363 per 100,000 households and the second highest estimated rate of vehicle theft victims at 3226 per 100,000 households.

However, the police spokesperson said these figures were based on an anonymous and small sample of the population and not on reported crime rates.

"According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded crimes victims report, in 2014, the ACT recorded the second lowest victimisation rate per 100,000 people for sexual assault," the police spokesperson said.

Canberrans rated better in the Productivity Commission report against other states and territories when it came to seatbelts, with 4.5 per cent of Canberrans admitting they had driven without wearing one in the past six months – a figure hovering below the national average.

They also expressed confidence in public safety.

During the night, almost 93 per cent of Canberrans felt safe at home, more than half felt "safe" or "very safe" walking alone and one third felt safe on public transport. All three of these figures were the highest in Australia, most noticeably for walking alone.

The ACT was relatively on par with the rest of Australia in terms of police satisfaction, with 90 per cent believing police were professional, 79 per cent of people agreeing they were honest, and three quarters saying they "treat people fairly and equally".

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