Tragically, Western Australians are dying and suffering catastrophic injuries on our regional roads, resulting in immeasurable personal and social impacts.
Avoidable road trauma has a devastating impact on our communities, with more than 3,200 people killed and seriously injured on our regional roads between 2014 and 2018 alone.
Nearly 70 per cent of all serious crashes in regional WA involve cars running off the road or drifting into the path of oncoming traffic. On high-speed regional roads, a simple mistake is often met with fatal consequences. While motorists should always act with care, the cost of a lapse in judgement should not be one’s life or bravely living with a serious injury.
The clearest and most important way we can save lives and serious injuries on WA roads is through the Regional Road Improvement Program – a State Government proposal to deliver low cost safety treatments such as sealing shoulders and installing audible edge lines.
This $900 million program would see crucial upgrades across 17,000 kilometres of WA’s regional road network. The State Government has outlined that more than 2,100 serious crashes could be avoided through this package, reducing deaths and serious injuries in regional WA by more than 60 per cent.
With these upgrades we can stop crashes before they happen.
In addition to the enormous social benefits, the program will also significantly reduce the associated financial burden of road trauma, which is estimated to cost the WA economy as much as $2 billion a year. It will also create thousands of jobs, which will aid our COVID-19 recovery.
For the past 18 months RAC has been calling on governments to fund this life-saving package. In June it was announced the State and Federal Governments had reached agreement to jointly fund the first year of the program. This was a critical and much welcomed first step.
But it is indeed only a first step. A commitment to fully fund and deliver the entire program is urgently needed. And while it has previously been proposed as a nine-year program, it is our belief that, appropriately prioritised, it can and should be completed within four.
By any standard, this lifesaving, job creating stimulus package represents a step change in reducing the unacceptable social and economic toll of road trauma in Western Australia. Funding should flow without delay.