Road Safety Priorities is intended not only to provide road safety authorities and other interest groups with a valuable insight into what motorists themselves believe ‘needs to be done’, but also to offer a comprehensive ‘road map’ to achieving safer road use for all Queenslanders.
Safe roads minimise the chances of crashes happening and, if they do occur, they can help to minimise the severity of the crash. Protecting against human error and recognising that mistakes are an intrinsic part of human behaviour is understood in rail transport, aviation, and workplace safety, and road safety should be no different.
Road crashes in Queensland cost an estimated $4 billion annually and, while education, legislation and enforcement are important, building a safe and efficient road system is a long-term investment that provides protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
International research suggests that motor vehicle speed is at the core of road safety, with higher speeds increasing the risk of crashes occurring as well as the severity of the consequences from the crashes that do occur.
The National Road Safety Strategy 2001 – 2010 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in Australia’s road fatality rate per 100,000 population by December 2010 could be achieved by improving vehicle occupant protection through safer vehicles.
To optimise the benefits of advances in vehicle design and occupant safety - reducing the severity of casualty injuries and number of road crashes – there needs to be a reduction in the age of the existing vehicle fleet.
Road user education needs to commence in children’s formative years and to be ongoing thereafter. There should be community-wide recognition of this.
The over-representation of young drivers in road crash fatality and injury statistics is an international issue with high social and economic costs.
Across Australia more than 20% of drivers and riders killed have a blood alcohol level exceeding the legal limit.
Research suggests that using a seatbelt can reduce a vehicle occupant’s risk of death by at least 40 per cent. Almost 40 years after seat belt use was first made compulsory in Queensland, it is a real concern that so many vehicle occupants are still being killed in crashes because they are not properly restrained when travelling.
Travelling at inappropriate speeds increases the likelihood of a crash occurring, while physics dictates that the faster the speed, the higher the likely severity of injury caused in a crash.
A 1999 Queensland Parliamentary Travelsafe Committee inquiry report into drug driving pointed to Australian and overseas studies showing that impairing drugs were found in a significant number of dead and seriously injured drivers following road crashes.
Fatigue is often referred to as the hidden killer because many drivers are unaware they are experiencing its effects until it is too late.
Drivers need to stay alert for the entire time they are behind the wheel. This means scanning the road environment, processing information and making decisions about the primary task of driving. However, keeping drivers’ minds on the job is easier said than done.
There is widespread public concern about the increasing incidence and severity of aggressive driver behaviours.
Carefully designed education/training courses, one-on-one driver assessments and group workshops can help drivers identify their strengths and weaknesses and improve driving behaviour.
Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task involving such attributes as perception, judgement and reasonable physical capability. A range of medical and age-related conditions, as well as their treatments, may impair one or more of these factors, thereby increasing the risk of being involved in a crash.
An increase in motorcycle riding is a road safety issue: per vehicle kilometre travelled, the Australian rate of motorcyclist deaths is approximately 30 times the rate for car occupants, and the corresponding rate for serious injury for motorcycle riders is 41 times higher.
It is not surprising that, due to their size and mass, when heavy vehicles are involved in crashes with smaller vehicles, it is often occupants of the smaller vehicles who sustain the most severe injuries. This often results in the occupants of smaller vehicles and more vulnerable road users seeing larger vehicles as more of a threat or ‘more aggressive’ than they actually are.
Domestic and international tourists are viewed as a vulnerable road user group. It is believed that tourists may be unfamiliar with Queensland’s road rules, could potentially become disoriented and they may also be at risk of fatigue-related crashes, which are usually more severe.
Overseas research suggests that there is a clear connection between countries with good enforcement levels and good road safety performance.
The use of technology to reduce the role of human error in road crashes is ever increasing, particularly at the prestige end of the vehicle market. The good news is that many of these technologies filter down into the rest of the new vehicle range over time.
Reducing road trauma in Queensland involves focussing not only on how to prevent crashes and reduce their severity, but also on the speed and effectiveness of medical treatment received.
Across Australia, pedestrians account for approximately one quarter of all road deaths in metropolitan/urban areas (Australian Transport Council 2008, p48) and so managing pedestrian behaviour through enforcement and engineering is especially important in this environment.