Toll on ‘higher end’

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - NEWS - Sarah Ison and Gabrielle Knowles

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”.

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