Police tackle bad OS drivers
AS backpackers filter to the Granite Belt in time for apple season, the annual problem of overseas drivers is raised again.
Following a Stanthorpe Police initiative last year, Stanthorpe Police Sergeant Daniel O'Dea said the situation had improved, but the problems had not completely stopped.
Sergeant O'Dea said overseas drivers were an issue for a number of reasons.
International licences are obtained in the motorists' home country and with different standards across the world, it means they aren't required to know Australian rules or sit any Australian test.
“In some cases there is a different standard of expectation for drivers,” Sergeant O'Dea said, adding that the language barrier also caused problems.
“We do get a number of prangs and backpackers are such a small group but they are over represented in infringements and crash statistics,” he said.
Speeding, not wearing seatbelts, drink driving, failing to stop at stop signs and failing to keep to the left, were some of the most common infringements by overseas drivers.
“Backpackers also tend to have limited funds, so many are driving unroadworthy vehicles and sometimes there are issues with overcrowding.
“We have had a number of fatigue related crashes too. Often backpackers sleep in their cars. They are not getting adequate sleep and are driving long distances.”
Responding to the issue last year, the local police made pamphlets in eight languages aimed at educating overseas drivers.
They also worked heavily on enforcement.
“I've found it's had a positive effect but that's not to say we've stopped it.” The initiative has received interest from similar backpacker-filled towns such as Bowen and Bundaberg, and in Brisbane where there are a number of overseas students.
The local road safety committee is also hoping to send recommendations to legislators for changes to be made to the driving laws.
Sue Frances from employment agency Ready Workforce, helps backpackers find fruit picking jobs.
She said the driving standards of some overseas visitors was a huge problem
“I've been concerned for a number of years standards of some overseas backpackers,” she said.
“There have been so many near misses, I've dreaded there will be a fatality.”