As the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety marks its first anniversary, the Mackay community is taking action to address the dangerous Peak Downs Highway, aiming to develop a road safety model that can be applied in communities worldwide.
Tired of the ongoing serious injury and fatal crashes that occur on the Peak Downs Highway – the key route linking Mackay to the mines – 100 community members, road safety experts, industry and government leaders from across Australia are meeting in the central Queensland town on 18 May to develop an action plan.
An initiative of the Mackay Road Accident Action Group (RAAG) and 33900: The Australian Road Safety Collaboration, the workshop will develop immediate and long term actions to improve road safety management, deliver safer roads, drivers and vehicles, and improve post-crash care.
RACQ Executive Manager Technical and Safety Policy, Steve Spalding, said 14 people had been killed and 71 hospitalised on the Peak Downs Highway in the past five years.
“Immediate action must be taken to reduce this unacceptable rate of deaths and serious injuries, particularly when traffic on the Peak Downs Highway is expected to double in the next five to 10 years due to mining development in the Bowen and Galilee Basins,” Mr Spalding said.
“One of the key safety issues involves the mine workers who, fatigued after long shifts, embark on the lengthy journey back to their home base for their days off. Driving fatigued on a dangerous road is a lethal mix.
“To address this and a raft of other concerns, this workshop brings together the key players who can influence the future development of the Peak Downs Highway.
“This local initiative is paving the way for other communities in Australia and overseas – particularly those connected to mining – by developing a collaborative model that can be used as a blueprint in other regions.”
33900 convenor and member of the United Nations global committee, Rob McInerney, said the workshop aligned with the United Nations Global Plan and aimed to focus attention on those activities that could save a life.
“In Australia, 33,900 people die or are injured on our roads every year and this is wrong and unjust,” Mr McInerney said.
“Road death is preventable and we should be doing all we can to save lives. This innovative event in Mackay will unlock the energy, commitment and expertise of all stakeholders and drive a Decade of Action on the Peak Downs Highway.
“Road by road, community by community, and state by state we can replicate this and make sure it is a Decade of Action for Road Safety in Australia. Lives depend on it.”