HIGH speed rural roads still account for 44% of Victoria’s road fatalities.
And there are still four times as many people killed on country roads per capita than there are in metro areas.
These were among the worrying statistics listed by VicRoads CEO, John Merritt, at a road safety symposium in Melbourne recently, underscoring that any campaign aimed at driving down fatalities and road trauma in the state must include significant effort in country areas.
Thankfully, the Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan, who was also a speaker at the ‘Towards Zero’ campaign launch is in full agreement.
He said details about the new campaign, covering education and awareness, road projects and other initiatives will be released by the government in the next few weeks.
Towards Zero is now the new catch-cry of the state’s road safety message which will be less about criticising someone else for being “a bloody idiot” and more about making Victorian drivers and Victoria’s roads the safest in the world.
On that score, we’ve already come a long way, according to Transport Accident Commission CEO Joe Calafiore, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
“At the heart of the Towards Zero campaign is that the life of every single road user is precious… no one should be killed or seriously injured on our roads… and there’s no reason why, in our lifetime, that we can’t get to zero,” he said.
The first steps in getting to zero include ‘personalising the road toll’ in a series of new commercials, already being heavily aired on TV, and a new goal for Victoria of driving down the number of fatalities in a year to fewer than 200 by 2020.
The road toll last year was 249.
But even 200 is too high, according to Mr Donnellan, who launched the new emotion-charged TV advertisement which asks members of the community to nominate how many road deaths they’d say were acceptable.
Of course the answer, ultimately, is zero… “a future where every journey is a safe one” because we want our sons and daughters, other siblings and friends to come home safely, he said.
And the campaign partners; TAC, Victoria Police and the state’s Department of Justice and Regulation will be working at that goal on a wide variety of fronts and they will be attempting to bring industry and individual drivers along with them.
To give you an indication of what was proposed at the campaign launch late last month, business operators will be asked to buy only 5-Star ANCAP rated cars to protect their employees, police will continue to enforce low-level speed infringements because of its positive impact on statistics and individual drivers will be forced to consider how their behaviour, including texting while driving, speeding and driving while fatigued or affected by drugs and alcohol can have disastrous consequences.
It’s all about you realising that you and the people you love will be impacted unless you change behaviour.
If you can’t stop texting, talking on your mobile phone or looking information up on the internet while driving, put your phone where you can’t get it and don’t answer it.
Wire rope barriers
However, no matter what changes as far as the road safety message is concerned, at least one thing is here to stay – wire rope safety barriers.
VicRoads CEO John Merritt said these flexible barriers saved upwards of 1000 people last year from being hospitalised or killed and they will continue to be replaced when damaged and rolled out in accident blackspots because they work, Nr Merritt said.
And despite criticism from motoring clubs and individuals, speeds will continue to be lowered on dangerous stretches of road in an effort to stop the carnage.
New Zealand road safety expert, Colin Brodie, posed an interesting question at the Towards Zero launch: “Would you still fly if there were more than six jumbo jet crashes every day, somewhere in the world?”
That’s the equivalent of how many people are killed on the world’s roads each day, 3287 daily last year, and we don’t give it a second thought.
But the fact is, the road toll is everyone’s responsibility.
Ask yourself this question: How are you going to change your behaviour to make you, your family, your friends and other motorists are safer on the road?