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Third party insurance

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The Minister for the Capital Territory said today that after recent

studies into third party insurance premiums he was appalled at the costs that

were imposed on the community by road accidents. Clearly, many costly accidents

could have been avoided with sane driving. Third party premiums could only

reflect current and predicted insurance claims. The answer to rising premiums

lay principally with the driving community.

Mr. Bryant said that he had studied police accident reports and

concluded that a common cause of injury in accidents and thus a very high cost

to the community and the general body of motorists is the negligent attitude

by many drivers to the responsibility involved in holding a drivers licence.

The car which should be the hand-maiden of civilization was often

used as a murderous weapon. A lenient attitude to drinking and driving is a

social mistake.

The party goer who is involved in a charge by the police for driving

under the influence or above the permitted blood alcohol level is mostly seen

by his mates as being unlucky or as being maligned by the enforcement authorities.

A drunken man waving a loaded pistol in Garema Place would do less harm yet

would be more condemned by society.

Mr. Bryant emphasised that this tolerant attitude to drinking/

driving is entirely wrong. In time, it would be proven to be socially

unacceptable. Stark figures show that a high proportion of the accidents with

consequent fatalities and lifetime injuries were directly attributal to alcohol.

The public conscience could no longer ignore this.

The Minister is prepared to use every power at his disposal to bring

about a significant reduction in accidents.

. He said that he had arranged with the Attorney-General, Senator

Lionel Murphy, that the A.C.T. Police would mount an intensive campaign of

increased enforcement during the Christmas and New Year period. Special

attention would be given to those persons who are prepared to place other members

of the public in hazard by driving after drinking at hotels, clubs or at the

usual round of office parties. .

Mr. Bryant said that he was concerned that there is a noticeable

tendency for persons in motor vehicles to either not wear seat belts or to wear

them not properly adjusted, In the safety campaign police would pay particular

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attention to these factors. It had been proven that the safety belt had been one

of the most significant breakthroughs in the battle to reduce the severity of

road casualties. He had asked the Department to prepare a submission for the

introduction of legislation to require the compulsory fitment of seat belts to

vehicles manufactured from 1966 onwards. He hoped this legislation would be

before the Advisory Council early in the New Year.

Mr. Bryant said drivers in the A.C.T. show little respect for their

responsibility to ensure safe driving practices in intersections. The observed

attitude of A.C.T. drivers in terms of aggression, inattention and discourtesy

is very poor indeed. He would be expecting positive police action to improve

driver attitudes. "

On the question of speeding by motorists, Mr. Bryant said that he

agreed with the research that had shown that accident potential could be equated

with differential speed. He said special corrective attention would be given by

the enforcement authorities to those who use pure speed merely to gain a traffic

advantage either in the flow of traffic or at traffic signals.

Mr. Bryant said that the opportunity exists in Canberra with its well

planned road system to reduce the road toll if motorists were prepared to

co-operate in an all out effort.

He forecast that the New Year would bring further initiatives that

would be aimed at ensuring that the per capita road accident statistics would be

reduced to the extent that Canberra could be held up to be a model for the rest of


The Minister said that the concept of peace on earth and goodwill to

all men at this time of year was meaningless if people out of a sense of

irresponsibility and thoughtlessness were allowed to continue to kill and maim

their fellow men on the roads.

CANBERRA 17/12/73