ABOUT 45 per cent of regional Victorian parents undertake risky behaviour with children in the car, research shows.
The Australian Road Safety Foundation research indicates a "disconnect" between people's behaviour and the risk mitigation exercised.
Wimmera police say drivers across the region are not immune.
Sergeant Bill Alford of St Arnaud said a mother of two was caught speeding along the single-lane Banyena Road at St Arnaud last month.
The woman, 31, was travelling at 170 kilometres an hour with children aged four and two in the backseat.
He labelled the incident "horrendous and unacceptable".
He said it was the first time St Arnaud police had caught someone travelling at such a speed since he joined the station. But he said members encountered similar cases frequently.
"Especially during school holidays and on weekends, (with families) going to wineries or the Grampians," he said.
"Country people tend to think that the local area is their highway, their road. They are used to driving on them."
Australian Road Safety Foundation chief executive Russell White said people needed to show a greater level of vigilance on the roads.
"If it's a family that is involved in other activities, like hiking, everyone is vigilant - but when it comes to roads, we tend to devalue the risk that is there," he said.
"The worrying thing to me is that nearly from the time the child is facing forward, it is demonstrating really bad behavior (and) the child is able to observe it."
Mr White said fines and road signs would not change bad behaviour. He said people needed to communicate the impacts poor driver behaviour could have on the community.
"There is a level of complacency right around the nation about how risky it is. People don't realise that road trauma is the biggest killer of young kids," he said.
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