Toll on ‘higher end’
WA recorded one of its lowest annual road tolls on record in 2018, but in the South West fatalities were higher than hoped.
The Road Safety Commission reported 158 deaths last year — 59 deaths on metropolitan roads and 99 in the country. This was lower than the 161 deaths in 2017, which was previously the equal-lowest toll since records began in 1961.
But in the South West the death toll was on the “higher end” of yearly averages, recording a total of 27 fatalities.
District traffic co-ordinator David Hurdle said road deaths varied between 15 to 24 each year, so 2018 was “at the higher range of what we’d expect”.
“Everything we manage with enforcement, we can,” he said.
“But we can’t manage things like inattention.”
Mr Hurdle said almost all of the fatalities in 2018 involved just one vehicle, making it hard to ascertain the circumstances behind the deaths.
“The top factors though will always be fatigue, inattention and occasionally alcohol,” he said.
Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts said it was encouraging the Statewide road toll had continued to fall from a disappointing 196 in 2016, but the figures represented tragedy for the families and friends of the 158 people killed and the many more seriously injured.
“It’s a constant reminder of the need to be vigilant every time we get behind the wheel,” Mrs Roberts said. “My thoughts are with those who are recovering in hospital from serious crashes over the festive period.
“As a Government, we are strongly focused on reducing road trauma, but as a community, we all need to take great care and give our full attention to the task of driving.”
Traffic Acting Commander Dominic Wood said it was still a high-risk period for drivers and they needed to avoid complacen- cy, particularly on long trips.
“I would urge the public to plan their journey, get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks,” he said. “The majority of crashes are not caused by illegal or risk-taking behaviour, but by ordinary people making mistakes.
“Momentary lapses of concentration and inattention can be deadly.”
However, Mr Hurdle said in the South West, people were “starting to get the hint” to take their time during long journeys and education surrounding safe driving was getting through.
“We’ve had thousands of extra people in the South West and speed cameras are registering double the number of cars,” he said.
“But the majority aren’t speeding and we haven’t had any dramatic increase in poor driving.”
Mr Hurdle confirmed police across the district were still out in strength “keeping an eye on everybody and hopefully helping keeping them safe”.