WA ‘fails’ in road safety

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - REGINA TITELIUS Health Re­porter Sun­day Times. The

WA’S top trauma sur­geon says “po­lit­i­cal will” is needed to re­duce speed lim­its and save lives on coun­try roads.

Royal Perth Hospi­tal head of trauma Dr Sud­hakar Rao said the ris­ing num­ber of road trauma ad­mis­sions to RPH should serve as a “wake-up call” for au­thor­i­ties.

His warn­ing comes as the McGowan Gov­ern­ment this week cut the speed limit on the no­to­ri­ous In­dian Ocean Drive to 100km/h af­ter a spate of fa­tal crashes this year.

The Road Safety Com­mis­sion this week con­firmed it would con­sider re­view­ing speed lim­its on coun­try roads when WA’s cur­rent road safety strat­egy ends in 2020.

So far in 2017, 128 peo­ple have died on WA’s roads. Of these, 73 deaths were on coun­try roads. The dead­li­est ru­ral re­gions have been the Wheat­belt and South West, with 18 fa­tal­i­ties each.

Dr Rao, chair­man of the WA Road Trauma Com­mit­tee for the Royal Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Sur­geons, said Aus­tralia was “fail­ing” in its United Na­tions com­mit­ment to re­duce road in­juries and deaths by 30 per cent within 10 years.

“The hic­cup seems to be lack of po­lit­i­cal will to make de­ci­sions on speed lim­its, par­tic­u­larly in coun­try ar­eas,” Dr Rao said.

“For ev­ery 5km you drop, there is sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in in­juries sus­tained.”

RPH road trauma ad­mis­sions show there were 323 ma­jor in­jury cases in 2015, com­pared with 290 in 2011. There were also 1250 mi­nor in­juries in 2015, up from 932.

Dr Rao said the rate of road trauma ad­mis­sions in­creased from 5.2 per 100,000 peo­ple in 2011 to 6.1 in 2015.

Act­ing Road Safety Com­mis­sioner Iain Cameron said a review of speed lim­its, par­tic­u­larly for coun­try roads, could be un­der­taken.

“Coun­try speed lim­its . . . is some­thing that needs to be looked at. We haven’t looked at it re­cently and we don’t have a spe­cific plan at the mo­ment. But as we come to­wards the end of the cur­rent strat­egy, we’ll need to start do­ing some work,” Mr Cameron said.

He said a re­port on pointto-point cam­eras, in­tro­duced on the For­rest High­way this year, would be pro­vided to the Gov­ern­ment early next year.

Mean­while, a RPH study that can pre­dict which driv­ers will die or end up with se­ri­ous in­juries could see at-risk peo­ple tar­geted for in­ter­ven­tion.

Dr Rao said the study had been ig­nored by the pre­vi­ous WA Gov­ern­ment.

That re­port, com­piled in 2015, will now be con­sid­ered by Po­lice Min­is­ter Michelle Roberts af­ter in­quiries by

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