Road safety initiatives in the spotlight - Western Australia

“This is a very, very long ad, is it even an ad?” that was the response of a friend of mine to the recent Enjoy the ride ad from Road Safety WA. So is there real value in these adverts and the road safety initiatives behind them? Do they deliver on their spend? It has long been established that finding out what has been causing the gradual decrease in road fatalities is close to impossible. Everyone from the vehicle manufacturers to the roadside landscaping companies can claim that their changes made the differences. So how then, do we assess the value of a road safety initiative? The only real solution here is to assess the initiatives on their own merits and use highly detailed and localised statistics to dig deep into the impact made.

What’s in the initiative - The four cornerstones  of the “Towards Zero” initiative

The “towards zero” project is an initiative from the office of road safety in Western Australia. It has been running from 2008 and is due to continue until 2020. It contains four elements; each element has additional sub-sections which will be worked on. These are detailed below.

Safe Road Use

  • Educating road users
  • Enforcing the road rules
  • Promoting the Safe System

Safe Roads and Roadside

  • Improving safety at intersections
  • Reducing the risk of run-off-road crashes through sealing shoulders, installing audible edge lines, removing roadside hazards and installing safety barriers
  • Expanding the Black Spot and Safer Roads Programs.

Safe Speeds

  • Better speed enforcement and education campaigns on speed reduction
  • Further research and community consultation on safe speed limits
  • Demonstration projects to reduce travel speeds and raise community awareness of the implications of speed limit reductions
  • Targeted speed limit reductions in areas of high pedestrian activity (such as strip shopping precincts).

Safe Vehicles

  • Strongly encouraging making safe vehicles and specific safety features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and side and curtain (head protecting) airbags compulsory for government vehicles
  • Educating and encouraging corporations, employees and community members to purchase safe vehicles
  • Lobbying manufacturers to fit safety features as standard
  • Continuing to investigate emerging vehicle safety technology.

More information on the scheme is available at their website

An appraisal of the scheme

Good on the basics – The scheme is engaging and the depth of the scheme is to be applauded. In addition the scope and length of the scheme offers more credibility to those involved and their commitment to long term planning in the area.

Low on updates – The lack of up to date information available to the public is disappointing. Very little seems to be invested in updating the website with up to date statistics on where crashes occur or current crash numbers. Some statistics on this don’t seem to have been updated since 2008. Without these updates there is no way for the public to see how well the scheme is progressing.

Low on specifics – Again here the details are lacking. There are little or no specifics on what areas have been improved. This is concerning as it implies that nobody is tracking whether or not specific changes are making an impact over time.

Final thoughts

Road safety initiatives can be very challenging for the people involved. Results can be misleading, demotivation, heart breaking and at times contradictory. As any good scientist knows it’s only through more recording and data analysis that real results can be found. Road safety initiatives simply need deeper and more comprehensive statistics, updates and recording of outcomes. The public should know the specifics of the efforts being made and at the same time organisers should try to call upon the pubic for insights. The “towards zero” campaign is a good example of a road safety initiative however it simply lacks a “live” element which could help everyone involved gain a deeper understanding.

Do you think we get vaule for money with road safety initiatives?

Do you think more results are needed here?

Please comment below.

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