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Uncomfortable Realities: Lowering Fatalities on South Australian Roads

2 minute read

We can throw millions of dollars at the roads, enforce stricter laws, or target risky drivers with high-tech cameras, but the uncomfortable reality is, none of this will lower the number of lives lost on South Australian roads without more effort on our part.

City street in Adelaide, SA

Throughout the year, the terms ‘speeding’, ‘racing’, ‘road rage’ and ‘head-on collision’ have made major headlines in traffic news. Of the lives lost on South Australian roads, the majority are drivers, followed by motorcyclists, passengers and pedestrians, leaving 532 seriously injured and 68 dead so far.

In June of 2021, SA recorded their 50th road-related death on Dukes Highway near Schubert Road when a Toyota 4WD and a B-double truck collided head-on. The apparent cause of the crash?

Inattention and fatigue.

A month later another head-on collision between a motorcycle and a semi-trailer on the same road took the life of a 33-year-old man from Bordertown – the 60th life lost in South Australia.

Stretching for 189km between Adelaide to Melbourne, Dukes Highway stands as the state’s deadliest major road.

Despite the highway undergoing several road improvements to reduce fatal accidents – through the installation of point-to-point speed cameras, wider centre lines and audio-tactile line markings – casualties continue to mount.

The implementation of stricter laws and penalties has not seemed to help much either.

For instance, despite potentially costing drivers up to nine demerit points and $1690 worth of fines, in 2020 alone, SA drivers still paid over $170 million in speeding fines suggesting that attitudes may not be changing.

The impact driving behaviour has on crash fatality increases the further we move away from urban roads. Factors often involved in regional and rural SA (where 64% of fatal crashes occur) include inattention, speeding, fatigue and intoxicated driving.

So, if we can’t rely on road upgrades or laws to change driver behaviour what can we do?

The solution lies in our responsibility to become aware of the factors that lead to serious injury and death on the roads and the areas where we must improve as a state to lower the road toll.

Avoiding the fatal five – distractionsspeeding, drink or drug driving, fatigue and seatbelt or helmet use – is a start, but promoting education that prevents and addresses these factors before they become habitual driving behaviours could have a longer-term impact.

This is exactly why we’ll be launching our Face-to-Face Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOIP) in Adelaide CBD early next year. Our charity’s one-day course rehabilitates drivers facing court over traffic offences, usually for the first time, by covering the ‘Five Fatal Factors’ and the life-changing, human impact of unsafe driving behaviours.

Delivered either Face-to-Face, in a Virtual Classroom setting or Self-Paced Online, the three versions of the program help to remove geographical barriers, to ensure road safety education is available for those in metro, regional and remote South Australia.

With the goal of educating all Australian road users at a younger age, funds raised from TOIP will go towards offering youth programs to embed road safety messages in future drivers before they get on the roads.

As it stands, the number of road deaths occurring may be shockingly high, but by encouraging safer driving practices across the state and taking safety measures behind the wheel, we can do something about it.

To find out more about our programs click HERE.

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