New research by the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) reveals that more than half of Australian parents admit to breaking road laws or undertaking risky behavior – both with and without their children in the car.

Released in the lead up to Fatality Free Friday (31 May), the research shows that one third of parents admit that they have driven over the legal alcohol limit, compared to one quarter of Australians without children who say they have never committed this dangerous behavior.

Three in four (75 percent) parents of children and young people under 24 admit to speeding on a regular basis, compared to 67 percent of those without any children.

One in five parents admit to taking the same risks when driving a vehicle occupied by someone else’s children.

According to ARSF the research indicates that complacency may stem from the fact that road safety is not rated as being as life threatening as other potential safety issues. For example, according to the research, parents whose children are under the age of 24 are five times more likely to secure fences around the backyard pool than they are to ensure the safety of their vehicle.

“While parents are most guilty of bad behavior with children in the car, the majority of Australian drivers seem to believe it is acceptable to take even greater risks if it’s just themselves in the car,” said ARSF founder and CEO Russell White. “However, the stark reality is that any time you take a risk behind the wheel, you are putting the lives of every motorist, passenger, cyclist and pedestrian around you at risk.

“The research shows that when we’re driving alone, the likelihood of taking a risk increases by 16 per cent, with men more likely than women to take risks behind the wheel. It’s imperative we stamp out the idea that it’s just drivers who suffer the consequences of road risk taking. There’s no room for complacency and all lives must be top of mind for road users.”