It is a sneaky manoeuvre almost every peak-hour motorist has considered – a quick short cut through the service station to save several painful minutes longing for the traffic lights to change.
And among Perth drivers, it appears to be a popular way to bag a clear run through the suburbs.
The West Australian‘s staff spotted countless cars taking short cuts through service station forecourts to beat the traffic lights.
One service station, Maylands Puma on Guildford Road, was used by eight red-light dodgers in an hour, with at least one car making the short cut during each light rotation.
While the time-saving move may not be considered illegal under WA’s road laws, service station staff are furious at drivers they say are endangering the safety of customers and robbing them of business to save time in the traffic.
Glendalough Caltex service station manager Gaj Prabhakaram said the station, on the intersection of Jon Sanders Drive and Harborne Street, had become a favoured thoroughfare for impatient drivers, which had resulted in at least two crashes in the station.
“It’s all the time. The main time is peak hour, there’s more than a dozen, even 15 or so then. You see some people driving so fast and we’re having a lot of hazards . . . We can’t do anything about it,” he said.
Increasing amounts of traffic near the intersection was making the problem worse, he said.
Mr Prabhakaram has rejected using signs to curtail the practice because he doesn’t want to deter customers. He said he had resisted the urge to confront errant motorists because of fears he would be struck by a car.
“I don’t know what to do. It’s risky what they’re doing and it’s getting worse and worse, it’s not going to get any better,” he said.
His concerns are shared by Australasian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Jeff Rogut, who said the short cuts took business away from services stations because “people can’t get in or out” and were a looming safety concern.
Motor Trade Association chief executive Stephen Moir described the practice as one of his “pet hates” and an increasing problem that had become another example of the “bad behaviour of Perth drivers”.
“It’s a lack of patience, a lack of common courtesy and it’s cheating because everyone else’s waiting . . . it’s not going to control congestion, all it’s going to do is p . . . people off,” Mr Moir said.
City of Stirling mayor Giovanni Italiano said while he understood the frustrations of service station staff, it was not council’s responsibility to prevent drivers cutting corners on private property.