Road death rate higher in the bush, com­pared to city

South Bur­nett peo­ple more likely to die on roads than our big­ger city coun­ter­parts

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Ge­off Egan ARM News­desk

PEO­PLE are dy­ing on North Bur­nett roads at more than six times the rate of peo­ple in Bris­bane.

But the RACQ be­lieves less costly re­gional road up­grades could save lives just as re­cent im­prove­ments on the Bruce Hwy have.

The So­cial At­las of Aus­tralia has re­vealed that be­tween 2009 and 2013 there were three road deaths for every 100,000 Bris­bane res­i­dents.

Over the same pe­riod across the North Bur­nett re­gion there were 19.9 deaths for every 100,000 peo­ple.

A year-long RACQ anal­y­sis of road deaths on the Bruce Hwy found a sig­nif­i­cant drop in the num­ber of deaths in 2015. But RACQ pol­icy ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Michael Roth said a longer pe­riod was needed to con­firm the trend.

“In a few years time I think we’ll be able to write up the Bruce as a good case study for how to im­prove th­ese high­ways,” he said.

In 2015 there were 30 deaths due to crashes on the Bruce Hwy – 12.4% of all Queens­land fa­tal­i­ties.

He said the RACQ was call­ing on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to fund the In­land Queens­land Road Ac­tion Plan to help the State Gov­ern­ment and lo­cal coun­cils pri­ori­tise and bet­ter plan road up­grades.

Mr Roth said rel­a­tively cheap up­grades such as widen­ing me­dian strips, clear­ing road­sides and in­stalling guard rails could save lives.

“Th­ese types of up­grades aren’t mil­lion-dol­lar over­passes, we’re talk­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands per kilo­me­tre,” he said.

“So you can up­grade a long stretch of road for a rel­a­tively small amount.”

A Monash Univer­sity Ac­ci­dent Re­search Cen­tre sub­mis­sion to a Fed­eral Se­nate in­quiry into road safety found death rates across re­gional Aus­tralia were be­tween five and seven times higher than met­ro­pol­i­tan rates.

“In re­gional and re­mote ar­eas three-quar­ters of se­ri­ous in­jury arises from sin­gle-ve­hi­cle run off the road crashes, usu­ally on high-speed roads that fre­quently have poor road­side safety in­fra­struc­ture,” the re­port said.

Fed­eral In­fra­struc­ture and Roads Min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester said the Coali­tion recog­nised the im­por­tance of im­prov­ing road safety out­side cap­i­tal cities.

“The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment is making a $50 bil­lion in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture to de­liver new road cor­ri­dors in all our ma­jor cities and vastly im­prove re­gional road net­works,” he said.

“By building bet­ter roads, we can not only im­prove lives but we can save lives. Over and above our spe­cific projects com­mit­ments, the Coali­tion is also de­liv­er­ing pro­grams which im­prove the safety of lo­cal roads.

“The Coali­tion changed the cri­te­ria of this pro­gram to en­sure that at least 50% of fund­ing is ded­i­cated to fix­ing sites in re­gional Aus­tralia, where more than 56% of road deaths and a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of hos­pi­talised in­juries oc­cur.”

La­bor did not re­spond to ques­tions re­gard­ing its road safety poli­cies.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

RACQ ex­ec­u­tive man­ager of pub­lic pol­icy Michael Roth.

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