Lower speeds, better roads and more cameras would ‘halve WA’s road trauma in a decade’

Headshot of Gavin Box
Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian
Iain Cameron in Geraldton.
Camera IconIain Cameron in Geraldton. Credit: Gavin Box, The Geraldton Guardian

The number of deaths and serious injuries in WA road crashes could be cut in half in a decade with some “ambitious” changes, a forum in Geraldton has been told.

Modelling by a South Australian university, outlined at the Road Safety Council Imagine Zero community forum, predicted a halving of death and serious injury if WA:

* Cut speed limits by 10km/h on all roads except 110km/h limited State highways and roads currently limited below 40km/h.

* Doubled automated speed enforcement (speed, red light and point to point cameras).

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* Tripled current spending on road improvements — from $50 million a year to $150 million a year.

* In regional areas, targeted spending on road improvements to combat run-off road crashes. This would include wide-centre lines, improved curve delineation and shoulder widening and sealing.

* According to the Road Safety Council’s Imagine Zero discussion paper, zero blood alcohol limits and raising the age for P-plate drivers to 18 would not have the same impact as lowering speed limits and spending money on roads.

Council chairman Iain Cameron said lower speeds and safer roads made the biggest difference in minimising road trauma.

About 12 people attended the forum, which was told of three scenarios for reducing road trauma over the next decade:

* The scenario outlined above, leading to an estimated 50 per cent fall.

* Making no change to current practices, which would lead to an estimated 20 per cent fall.

* Doubling infrastructure spending and automated speed enforcement, while reducing by 10 km/h all 110km/h limited “back roads” along with 60km/h and 40km/h limited roads, which would lead to an estimated 35 per cent fall.

Those attending the forum were divided when asked if they had a preferred scenario. The meeting was told the scenarios were not plans and were presented for discussion purposes only.

Mr Cameron acknowledged change to existing road laws would upset some people.

“It’s a bit like immunisation, asking people to take an inoculation for the protection of the herd,” he said. “People will say ‘Why are you penalising me?’ but the question is ‘Am I prepared to do my little bit to give the herd better protection? What am I prepared to do as individual for the sake of the herd?’.”

He said he was impressed with the willingness of Geraldton people at the forum to consider change.

Mr Cameron said 70 per cent of all road trauma in WA was caused by inattention, fatigue and distraction — by drivers who were “not deliberately doing the wrong thing”.

The council will hold forums throughout WA and is expected to make recommendations to the Road Safety Minister in September. Have your say at rsc.wa.gov.au.

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