Leading figures from across the WA injury prevention sector and those with a keen interest in road safety gathered for the afternoon road safety session as part of the Injury Prevention Summit on Thursday, 23 November.
Led by WALGA Roadwise Manager, Terri-Anne Pettet, the expert panel included Acting Road Safety Commissioner, Iain Cameron, Senior Research Fellow at the Curtin Monash Accident Research Centre (C-MARC), Dr Kate Brameld, and Road Safety and Travelsmart Officer at the City of Wanneroo, Ryan Gibson.
Each of our expert panellists brought a different perspective to the conversation and was given the opportunity to speak about their own priorities in terms of road safety and how their organisations were working to reduce the impact of road trauma in Western Australia.
The discussion involved looking at the different approaches to road safety nationally and across the globe and in particular, focusing on those countries which are currently leading the world in terms of the road toll and what they are doing to achieve this. It also involved an overview of the Towards Zero road safety strategy, which covers the years 2008 to 2020, and a discussion led by Mr Cameron about what might be the focus beyond this date.
Increasingly safer vehicles, improved education, and enforcement and investment in better roads and infrastructure will inevitably continue to reduce the road toll in WA and elsewhere, however the panellists were quick to point out that despite all these measures, drivers were still going to make mistakes that would lead to deaths and injuries.
Mr Gibson spoke of the huge responsibilities of Local Governments in terms of road safety as custodians of the majority of WA’s road network and the differences between large councils such as Wanneroo and those in regional WA.
Conversation turned to the impact that autonomous cars might have on the WA road toll, which Mr Cameron said would be significant in the future although the percentage on our roads would likely remain small well beyond 2025.
Dr Brameld highlighted some of the gaps in research when it came to road safety, pointing out that Indigenous road safety was one such area that there were not enough resources or progress being made despite this group’s over representation in the road crash data. C-MARC is currently undertaking a review of issues, interventions, and needs in Western Australia for Aboriginal Road Safety.
There were plenty of questions following the panel discussion about current issues such as the introduction of the new minimum passing distance law to protect our cyclists, the impact of mobile phones on our road toll, and if a zero target in terms of deaths on our roads will ever be an achievable target.
One of the most important take home messages for those that attended was that the road toll cannot be reduced without collaboration between all stakeholders and individual road users, and that we all need to take responsibility for our own driver behaviour.