More focus needed on road injuries, not just deaths
Focusing only on road deaths, while skating over injuries, fosters complacency around driver safety, according to the Australasian College of Road Safety.
In addition to those who die on the roads, at least 100 people are also seriously injured every day.
“Australia is well behind its own targets to reduce deaths and injuries from road crashes,” said President Lauchlan McIntosh.
“The focus on fatalities is simply the tip of the iceberg.”
The comment comes in response to a recent statement by the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on the number of deaths on our roads during 2018.
"While we can take a moment to reflect that the 2018 number of deaths brings us back to 2015 levels, we must not forget the road toll also includes the 100+ who are seriously injured each day — 37,000 each year,” McIntosh said.
He said that ACRS Fellow Professor Narelle Haworth from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety — Queensland (CARRS-Q) put it succinctly when she said in 2017:
“Focusing on the road toll is misguided. It shapes the views of both policymakers and the public, and leads to a distorted picture of what needs to be done to improve road safety.”
Haworth said drink driving, speeding, not wearing seat belts and fatigue were much more common in fatal crashes than in serious injury crashes.
“Similarly, about 50% of fatal crashes occur in 100 km/h speed zones while serious injuries are more likely to occur in speed zones of 60 km/h or less,” she said.
“Motorcyclists, bicycle riders and pedestrians make up the greatest proportion of people admitted to hospital than those killed.
“Basing our road safety response on what we see in fatalities will result in misdirected perceptions and policies.
“The 2018 Ministerial Inquiry into our road safety strategy set out the real scale of work required on the path ‘Towards Zero’, and emphasised the lack of urgency and resources currently being allocated to reduce this unnecessary burden,” McIntosh said.
“The Deputy Prime Minister is right that we cannot be complacent, but the action on those inquiry recommendations is looking like the same dead hand of action to past Inquiries.
“Ignoring the 100+ serious injuries per day, every day, just encourages complacency. We know what to do, let’s see some real commitment from all parties to reduce this burden.”
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