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26 June 2019

The Road Safety Council is calling on all West Australians to contribute towards the future of road safety as it drafts a new strategy for the State Government to consider. Road Safety can be a highly emotive subject and we all have opinions on what we think should be done to reduce crash risk on our roads. As part of the development of a new road safety strategy for WA, a three-month consultation period will allow you the opportunity to consider the latest research and provide informed and constructive feedback that will contribute to the development of the strategy, making a difference for decades to come.

Before you get your teeth stuck into providing your feedback, spend as much time as you can to get yourself familiar with some of the big picture concepts and the learnings from the last ten years in road safety by reading the consultation paper, watching the videos and registering yourself to attend one of the community forums. 

Summary of the Imagine Zero Consultation Paper

The consultation paper presents the latest local, national and global road safety information describing and making comparisons with WA’s journey towards zero. 

Key Facts

  • Between 2008 and 2017, 1,266 people were killed or seriously injured while riding a bike on our roads.
  • Bike riders represent 2% of all fatalities and 5.5% of all serious injuries on our roads. Although this appears to be relatively small, based on exposure, bike riders remain over-represented in the road crash statistics.
  • Only 27% of all fatal and serious injury crashes involved risk-taking/illegal behaviours (speeding, drink-drug driving, not wearing seat belts and helmets). This means that the remaining 73% of crashes were a result of human error and people making mistakes
  • The human body has a limited physical ability to tolerate crash forces. This means that a crash involving a pedestrian or bike rider at 30km/h or above significantly increases the risk of serious injury or death.

The paper then explores how the safe system approach and why this is important to help us implement actions to improve road safety.

A safe system approach is a holistic view on improving road safety and ensures that in the event that someone does make a mistake, the road network is forgiving and significantly reduces the severity of that crash. For this to work, all parts of the system must be strengthened to ensure that if one part of the system fails, we are still protected. This includes actions that target the construction of safer roads and roadsides, safer modes of transport, managing travel speed, improving safe road user behaviour and post-crash emergency responses.

To explain the safe system approach, please see this conceptual video from the Road Safety Commission.

For a more in-depth video on the safe system, please see the video from the Tasmanian Road Safety Council.

A critical point that this paper makes is that only three in every ten serious crashes involved an illegal or risk-taking behaviour. So even though most of us follow the road laws, the vast majority of serious crashes involve an error in perception or judgement or a lapse in concentration. While education and enforcement have played and will continue to play a part in addressing crashes resulting from illegal and risk-taking behaviours, to have a greater impact on road safety, we also need to consider how the principals of a safe system can protect us in the 73% of crashes when we do simply make a mistake.

Next steps

The more people we can get talking about well-informed cycling safety strategies in these forums, the better outcomes we can achieve in the next road safety strategy.

In our next post, we will explore some of the cycling-specific road safety actions to help you with discussions when participating in these public forums. Click here