Road Safety Requires Holistic Approach
In a speech today to the International Journal of Crashworthiness Conference in Melbourne - ICRASH 2002 – the Executive Director of the Australian Automobile Association, Lauchlan McIntosh, has called for a holistic approach to road safety.
He told the conference that 700,000 people died on the roads worldwide each year and over 10-million people were injured. "In Australia, we see over 1,700 fatalities a year on our roads and we estimate that there are 80,000-90,000 serious injuries occurring from road accidents," Mr. McIntosh said.
"The costs to every country's GDP is estimated at between one and three percent. These are resources the world cannot afford to lose. In my view, improving road safety has to become an international priority activity.
Mr. McIntosh told the conference that in other areas of activity with the potential for injury or death, such as the workplace, any level of injury or dealth is considered unacceptable, but road safety is still chasing targets that accept high levels of death and injury.
"This attitudinal shift to safety performance in industry generally, the commitment to a zero target "mindset" in terms of safety performance can be a lesson for all of us in terms of looking at how we might address improvements in road safety results.
"In my view, making a major shift in our results in road safety will require significantly new initiatives, dare I say the word that bores us most, even "reform".
"There is a challenge here in Australia to engage community support for the national road safety strategy targets. My hypothesis, that we have an individual aspirational "zero harm" vision but not a collective one, should be challenged, debated and determined.
"There must be serious debate on the "vision zero" or "zero harm" concept. Vehicle manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler have talked about accident-free driving and zero-harm in the work place. If industry can have such hopes, such mindsets in safety performance, why can't we as a community have a similar view in our attitude to road safety?
"The challenge in Australia is to build the support needed for a whole of community, whole of government approach to road safety. We need to recognise the new paradigms in technology, ideas and attitudes which are necessary to reduce the road toll not only by 40 percent in the next decade but to zero at some time in the reasonably foreseeable future," Mr. McIntosh said.