143 people have died on WA roads so far this year. That’s 11 more than the same time last year.
It should be zero but is that even possible?
Road safety experts believe YES based on a Swedish model making real inroads on the problem.
First we need to make two big changes:
- Turn the way we all think about traffic crashes upside-down.
- All of us working on it together – government, law enforcement, business, communities, families and individuals.
Ahead of the dangerous festive period, the South West Regional Road Group – chaired by Shire of Dardanup Deputy Shire President Peter Robinson – is urging understanding of and commitment to the WALGA RoadWise Towards Zero strategy.
Cr Robinson said Zero could only be achieved if there was a belief that it’s possible and a paradigm shift in thinking.
“We need to move away from ‘crashes are inevitable and deaths and serious injuries are a price we pay for mobility and freedom’ to ‘the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads is zero’.”
The Towards Zero strategy is based on the Swedish model “Vision Zero” where the number of traffic deaths per 100,000 head of population is half that of Australia’s and continues to go down.
In Australia our road safety performance has stalled.
It could be argued that if we want mobility and freedom it is the price we have to pay but is there really a price on lives lost on our roads?
No one should die just for trying to get from one place to another.
And this, according to Cr Robinson, was where the change in thinking needed occur.
Traditionally, we have counted crashes or seen crashes as the problem. The reason for the crash in most cases is put down to human factors.
This has caused the focus to be very much on changing human behavior to prevent crashes not on protecting the road user.
In Vision Zero, the crash is not the major problem. The problem is that people get killed or seriously injured.
It starts with the assumption that the body and mind are human, we must accept that our bodies have tolerance limits and we just make mistakes.
In Sweden, planning has played the biggest part in reducing crashes. Roads are built or modified with safety as a priority over speed or mobility.
They have implemented low speed-limits in urban areas with high numbers of pedestrians and installed barriers that separate cars from oncoming traffic and vulnerable road users.
Unfortunately, in Australia we have a road traffic system that was designed for maximum capacity and mobility – not safety!
Governments, road authorities and treasuries struggle to deal with this legacy and to change many of the outdated policies, practices and designs used to create the system.
Member local governments of the South West Regional Road Group have committed to striving towards greater implementation of these alternative approaches.