On the road in the Goldfields

Injury Matters | September 11, 2017

Road Trauma Support WA continues to work closely with the Road Safety Commission to try and reduce the impact and incidence of road trauma in Western Australia.

Sadly last year was a record breaking year on our roads for all the wrong reasons. Figures provided by the Road Safety Commission reveal that there were 195 deaths on our roads last year, 75 in the metropolitan area and 120 across regional WA. This was the highest number of deaths recorded in eight years and highlighted some of the problems facing organisations committed to improving road safety across the country.

The figures also shed light on the gravity of the situation on our roads in regional and remote WA, a factor which has seen the Road Safety Commission place renewed focus on what can be done to address the problems occurring outside the Perth metropolitan area.

As an organisation supporting all of those impacted by road trauma in WA, we recognise that a great number of those who may need our services reside outside the Perth metropolitan area where our counselling team is based.

However with a small team and budget, we are aware of the limitations that places on us. The Road Trauma Support Team has been making every effort to travel throughout regional WA during the last 12 months, meeting with key stakeholders in the different towns and regions and speaking to them about the challenges they face in their area.

Last week we travelled to Kalgoorlie to meet with key hospital staff, police, St John Ambulance and Department of Fire and Emergency Services among others to provide them with information about the services we offer and to talk about some of the particular issues they face.

One of our staff members also attended the Kalgoorlie Esperance Transafe WA forum, which provided an opportunity for those working in the transport industry in the region to voice their concerns about safety issues they face, learn from discussions of incidents and access key decision makers in their local area.

Transafe WA is an organisation championing and connecting safety leaders in the road transport industry to help deliver a safer road environment for everyone in WA.

One of the key challenges facing those committed to improving road safety in the Goldfields-Esperance region is its sheer size. It is the largest region in the state covering 771,276 square kilometres, making it roughly three times the size of Victoria – in itself a massive challenge for authorities.

The Road Safety Commission’s regional statistics for the area show that 50 people were killed or seriously injured in the region last year and 300 between 2012 and 2016. Of those, 65% of all those killed or seriously injured were male and 22% aged between 17 and 24.

The key issues highlighted for the region, in terms of the underlying causes of the death and serious injury were seatbelts, speed, drink driving and fatigue – a huge challenge for those trying to police such a massive area and evidence that attitudes and behaviours are not changing as quickly as they should.

As with most towns outside the Perth metropolitan area, deaths and injuries due to road crashes hit local communities particularly hard with a far higher likelihood that those killed or injured were known to much of the population.

Often in regional towns, resources readily available to those in those in the metropolitan area may not be available or those that are, are stretched due to demand which provides ongoing challenges for organisations committed to addressing road safety and also those treating those impacted by road trauma.

RTSWA will continue to travel throughout WA meeting with individuals, organisations and groups committed to improving road safety and reducing the impact of road trauma throughout WA and to ensure that those outside the Perth metropolitan area are aware of our service and how to access it in regional WA.