SaferRoads Targets Road Deaths and Injuries
“Safer drivers in safer vehicles on safer roads” is the focus of a new national road safety initiative launched today in Canberra to coincide with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2004 international year of road safety.
In an unprecedented display of cooperation, the Federal Minister for Territories, Local Government and Roads, Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell joined representatives from the major sponsor organisations, road safety experts and medical professionals in endorsing the SaferRoads project.
Tony Stacey, President of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) together with other key stakeholders—Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS), welcomed the Minister’s participation in the SaferRoads project, which aims reduce deaths and injuries on the roads.
Mr Stacey said that “since 1997, Australia’s road toll has remained almost static. Today like every other day this year, an average of 550 people will be injured on our roads, 60 of them seriously. 5 people on average will die today.”
“The road toll is not just a statistic. It involves sudden loss, pain, suffering and financial hardship. It changes the lives of thousands of Australian families forever. Unless we act now, thousands of lives will continue to be changed for the worse” Mr Stacey said.
“In addition to the enormous emotional strain of road crashes, poor road safety is also an enormous economic burden for our nation. Each and every day, we waste more than $40 million on road crashes. There is on average $11 million worth damage done to vehicles each day, $6.4 million spent on medical costs and $5.3 million in lost productivity in the workplace.”
“This is not just a narrow 'transport' issue that we're talking about. Road safety needs to be thought of as a 'whole of community’ issue. Road safety is, in reality, a preventable public health issue” Mr Stacey said.
Mr Stacey urged a commitment from all parts of society to achieving the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) target of saving, in today’s terms, 700
lives each year by 2010, saying “we need to work together on this. It's a big task that will take a big commitment, not just from governments, or from the car manufacturers or from drivers alone, but from everyone.”
Mr Stacey said “according to the research, fixing the roads has a greater potential to save lives than most people think.” The NRSS estimates that by 2010 around 332 lives could be saved each year through improved roads, 175 because of safer vehicles, 158 by better driver behaviour and 35 by the use of new technology.
“We all have a role to play in making our roads safer:
- Road users can contribute by acting more responsibly and eliminating the dangers of drink-driving, speeding, failing to wear seatbelts and driving when tired.
- Vehicle manufacturers and importers can contribute by making safer vehicles their main priority, by improving car design, encouraging safe driving in the promotion of their products and through improving compatibility between vehicle design and road infrastructure.
- Governments can contribute by pursuing best practice road safety options, building safer new roads, making existing roads more forgiving, demanding safer vehicles through fleet purchase and regulating and enforcing vehicle and driver standards.
- Business can contribute by promoting and rewarding safer road use by employees and suppliers and through selecting safer fleet vehicles.”