One fatality is one too many

By David Kavanagh | posted on January 10, 2020

NINETEEN people lost their lives on Great Southern roads last year, despite a downward trend in road fatalities across the state.

Road Safety Commission figures show 16 motor vehicle occupants, one cyclist, and two pedestrians were killed in the region in the period leading to December 30, 2019.

This comes as Western Australia recorded a total 164 road deaths, seven less than the preceding five-year average of 171.

Eighteen road fatalities occurred in the Great Southern in 2018, 15 in 2017 and a significant 31 in 2016.

Road Safety Council Chairman Iain Cameron told the Weekender inattention and fatigue were major factors in road crashes, with around seven out of 10 serious accidents involving a mistake or lapse in concentration.

“Road trauma is estimated to have cost Western Australia $20 billion over the past decade but the effect of just one death on family, loved ones, friends and the general community is incalculable,” he said.

“Even good drivers make mistakes and it is not just high risk behaviour such as speeding or drink and drug driving that can cause crashes.

“It is up to every road user to do their part to ensure we are all safe on the roads.”

According to the RAC, roughly 60 per cent of WA road fatalities occur on regional roads.

The organisation’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs Will Golsby called for the State Government’s Regional Road Safety Package to be fully funded in the 2020/21 State and Federal Budgets.

The $900m road improvement initiative aims to accelerate road upgrades to more than 17,000km of WA’s regional road networks.

“Our regional communities are hurting – just 20 per cent of WA’s population live in our regional areas yet this is where most of our fatalities occur,” Mr Golsby said.

“These low-cost road improvements would reduce road trauma by an unprecedented 60 per cent and prevent more than 2,100 serious crashes from occurring in the next decade.”

The nine-year initiative would not immediately target Great Southern routes, instead first focusing on improvements along the Great Eastern Highway, the Great Northern High- way, the South Western Highway and the North West Coastal Highway.