The Road Ahead : April May 2012
MAKES YOUR DAY 53 APR/MAY 2012 THE ROAD AHEAD ROAD SAFETY MOTORING IF YOU WERE given a choice, would you rather avoid traffic congestion and arrive at work five minutes early, or risk being a statistic in the state's ever increasing road toll? Despite the latest Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) report naming the Bruce Highway as the riskiest road in Queensland, governments have not yet committed the $1 billion needed for safety upgrades, in addition to the existing commitments that address capacity and flood immunity challenges. This is despite recently investing $1 billion on the Ipswich Motorway in an effort to reduce traffic congestion and improve travel time. "If the Government can mobilise that level of investment for a single project, then surely they can also target a further $1 billion on a single project designed to make the Bruce Highway safe," iRAP chief executive officer Rob McInerney said. "An investment of that scale will significantly reduce death and injury from Brisbane to Cairns and leave a lasting legacy of safer roads for future generations." According to the AusRAP report, the Bruce Highway accounts for two-thirds of the top 15 most dangerous sections of national highway. AusRAP assesses the risk of national highways based on crash statistics. More than 20,000 km of Australia's national highways were analysed in the latest AusRAP assessment. Based on crash history, the Bruce Highway is rated as medium-high to high risk along most of its 1700 km length and accounts for one in six deaths on the entire national highway network. To illustrate just how dangerous driving on parts of the Bruce Highway can be, Mr McInerney compared it to walking on the edge of the balcony of a 10-storey building -- with no safety rail. "That's no different to driving on a narrow, undivided stretch of the Bruce Highway as a truck heads towards you at 100 km/h separated by a white line," he said. "The danger is the same." On average, more than 35 lives are lost on the Bruce Highway every year. Last year there were 42. Over the past 10 years, crashes on the Bruce Highway accounted for more than 6000 injuries. Yet despite these chilling statistics, relatively little funding is allocated to improving the safety of the road. "That level of death in any other part of our community would cause a huge outcry and investment in fixing it," Mr McInerney said. "Until we challenge the status quo we will continue to find excuses for poor road infrastructure." At the moment, that status quo sees the finger of blame for increasing road deaths being pointed directly at drivers. Aggressive campaigns highlighting the dangers of speeding, driver fatigue and drink driving have gone a long way to keeping the condition of the state's roads out of the spotlight. But the truth is, according to Mr McInerney, the road is just unsafe and leaves no room for driver error. Even the safest drivers make mistakes; those mistakes shouldn't cost them their lives. Improvements including more overtaking lanes, safer intersections, guard rails, audio tactile line markings, wider lanes and shoulders, and the removal of roadside objects would go a long way towards reducing the road toll. "We know we can save people through these typically low-cost engineering countermeasures and these will be beneficial to all drivers, good or bad," Mr McInerney said. "Now is the time to invest as part of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. "Now is the time to invest in these measures to reduce road deaths and injuries." www.decadeofaction.org UNITY FOR ROAD SAFETY Imagine an Australia where road fatalities don't exist. Worldwide, 3500 people are killed and 100,000 seriously injured every day on the roads. In 2010, 33,900 of those deaths and injuries were in Australia alone. This disturbing statistic has inspired road safety stakeholders in Australia's non-government sector to establish 33,900: The Australian Road Safety Collaboration. 33,900 is part of Australia's international commitment to the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, and aims to ensure we all do more to improve road safety in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. The members of 33,900 believe that no one should die or be seriously injured on the Australian road network, and aim by 2020 to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries by 17,000. The group plans to do this by collaborating within the Australian, regional and global road safety community to support road safety activities and scale up coordination and action across the country. In addition, the group aims to create greater awareness, public debate and demand for action to reduce road trauma. www.33900.org.au On average, more than 35 lives are lost on the Bruce Highway every year.
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June July 2012