WA ‘fails’ in road safety
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