Repeat traffic offenders ‘more likely to crash’

Drivers with prior traffic offences are more likely to become trauma patients, according to a new Royal Perth Hospital research paper.

The study released today in international medical journal PLOS One found a link between patients admitted to the WA State Trauma Centre and traffic offence records at the WA Department of Transport between 1998 and 2013.

One of the authors of the paper, and Royal Perth Hospital intensive care unit specialist, Kwok Ho said people needed to understand that the traffic laws were not supposed to penalise them, but to protect them.

“I think one of the astonishing things is basically a little bit over 60 per cent had traffic offences history prior to their major trauma admission, and I think that is quite a high proportion. It means a lot of people actually had experienced or had been warned before,” Dr Ho said.

The research established drink-driving, seat-belts, and the use of handheld electronic device offences were strongly associated with road trauma.

“Monetary fines for traffic offences alone may not be adequate in reducing traffic offenders’ risk of subsequent severe injury leading to ICU admission or death,” the research paper said.

“It appears that many road trauma injuries did not occur merely by chance; instead what we observed was a pattern of risk-taking behaviours and the associated consequences.”

The report found those who had been admitted to an intensive care unit after a crash were less likely to commit traffic offences after recovering.

“It is possible that a near death experience after road trauma may have helped some of them to realise how close they were to dying on the roads,” Mr Ho said.

Mr Ho said he said many of those who were treated at the trauma centre had used alcohol or drugs before driving.

“I think unless we start to do something about it, I don’t think people will change,” he said.

“Basically, if you try hard enough to try to hurt yourself by having traffic offences then eventually you will.”

Categories: Emergency