Last year, 165 people died on our roads, and many more seriously injured.
We see deaths and serious injuries reported in the news, and see the trauma experienced first-hand by victims and their families, but often don’t see the flow on effects.
Behind the scenes, a crash means involvement from WA Police, the State Ambulance service, hospitals and medical professionals, Road Safety Commission, Main Roads WA, insurance agencies, mechanics, tow trucks and clear up crews, and many more.
THE ANNUAL ECONOMIC COST OF ROAD CRASHES IN AUSTRALIA IS ESTIMATED AT $27 BILLION PER ANNUM, AND THE SOCIAL IMPACTS ARE OVERWHELMING.
- Australian Medical Association
It’s unpleasant to think about, but a crash may lead to years of rehabilitation for physical and mental healing for those involved.
Often, individuals also have to deal with changes to their work, family and social lives and can experience financial hardship from time-off work, property damage, insurance claims and medical bills.
The Cost of Road Trauma
Road trauma has tragic consequences for those directly or indirectly affected.
The ripple effect encompasses those involved in the crash, their families, friends, employers and work colleagues.
Common Crash Types
Rear-end crashes make up 42% of all crashes – these are mostly the result of driver inattention.
The second most common crash type is right-angle crashes at 21%.
These mostly happen at intersections, when people don’t adhere to road rules.
(DATA: 2018 crash statistics from Main Roads from data.wa.gov.au)
Unsurprisingly, cars make up 88% of road vehicles involved in crashes in WA.
Trucks and motorcycles are involved in around 3% of all crashes.
Cyclists are involved in 1.8% of crashes, while pedestrians are involved in 1.5% of crashes.
Times + Date
Statistics show that WA drivers take more risks and drive less carefully as the week progresses.
Crashes increase throughout the week – peaking on Friday, before reducing substantially on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday presents almost twice the incident risk as Sunday.
Crashes peak between 3pm and 5pm and at 8am in the morning.
This aligns with trade and school knock off times, and with the peak hour morning rush.
There isn’t much seasonality across the year, peak crash months are August, March and May, which don’t correspond to any school holiday breaks or public holidays.
The least number of crashes occur in January and April.
What difference does the system make?
Safer roads and roadsides are more forgiving to human error, meaning that crashes are less likely to happen and, if they do occur, will have a less severe outcome.
The State Government’s road safety strategy focuses on:
- improving safety at intersections
- reducing the risk of run-off road crashes through sealing shoulders
- installing audible edge lines
- removing roadside hazards and installing safety barriers
- expanding the Black Spot and Safer Roads Programs
Strategically investing in safer road networks is important. It should come as no surprise that investing in treating known high crash risk locations, as compared to general road improvement programs, is 13.5 times more effective at saving lives on our roads, per dollar spent. (Vulcan and Corben, 1998)
Speed is at the core of the road safety problem. It affects both the risk of being involved in a crash and, more importantly, the subsequent outcomes should a crash occur.
There is clear evidence that lower speeds would mean fewer crashes, fewer deaths and fewer serious injuries in WA. Obvious, right?
A case study from France revealed that a reduction of speed limits on a two-lane rural road with no separating barriers from 90kmh to 80kmh in 2018 has so far resulted in 116 fewer deaths than the previous 2013-17 average.
Reduced speed limits in a similar study in Sweden have resulted in 41% fewer road deaths.
RESEARCH SHOWS SPEED REDUCTION WOULD BE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL OF ALL POSSIBLE INITIATIVES TO PREVENT DEATHS AND SERIOUS INJURIES ON OUR ROADS.
Safe Road Users
People are at the heart of our road system but also the least predictable.
We have to rely on other road users to be alert, adhere to road rules and adjust to conditions.
Initiatives focusing on distracted driving, speeding, and drink driving, have incrementally altered the community’s attitudes and behaviours to responsible driving.
Newer cars are much safer than old ones. Australian research shows that:
- If the average age of cars on our roads was reduced by one year, we would see a crash reduction of 5.4% and more than 1,300 lives would be saved Nationally over the next 20 years (AAA, 2017)
- If every motorist upgraded their vehicle to the safest in its class, road trauma would immediately drop by between 26 and 40 per cent (Newstead, 2004)