Road safety advocate calls for more education in young drivers

Photo: File.
Photo: File.

There have been 18 fatal crashes on Western NSW RMS roads in the year to April 2019, which is one of the reasons why a road safety organisation is urging for better education and for regional drivers to choose safety behind the wheel.

The data from the Centre for Road Safety also found that there were 978 casualties on Western NSW roads in the RMS region in the 12 months to March 2019.

The Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) is calling for all road users to make a commitment to #ChooseRoadSafety in the lead up to Fatality Free Friday on May 31.

Rural road crashes account for 65 per cent of the Australian road toll, according to the ARSF and the rate of serious road-related injury among residents in rural areas is nearly twice that of those in major cities

ARSF CEO Russell White said road safety issues for people living in metropolitan areas differs greatly to those in rural environments.

"For people in the rural community, even though the traffic might not be as intense as a metro area, people might sometimes underestimate the risks they're travelling on," he said.

"Even if it's a road they travel on everyday, or if we go to the other extreme, and they're on a property, the tendency might be 'I don't need to wear a seatbelt'...."

Some of the other road issues people have to deal with in a rural setting includes high travel speeds, longer distances between places and fatigue, he added.

Mr White said road safety wasn't a government or police issue, but a community issue.

"I think when we look at the road safety issues as a whole, we've go to look at how we improve the road networks, and the vehicles we're driving, but how are we educating and preparing people for life on the road," Mr White said.

What the road safety advocate would like to see is driver education commencing as early as primary school.

"You could be doing an education piece around road user behaviours.. and I just don't think as a nation we do that enough," Mr White said.

Alarmingly road safety trauma is the number one killer of children aged 14 and under and the second highest killer of young people aged under 24.

"Have we really got the commitment and the response to deal with that as a number one issues and I suggest we probably haven't, we've been skirting around the issue of it and that's why we need to have a complete change in how we educate road users," Mr White said.

"Not only just before they get their license but what are we doing to try and not only change the attitudes and beliefs of those young people but also what examples are we setting for that next generation."

One child is run over per week in Australia, the road safety advocate explained.

"As a parent that would be the most horrific thing that could ever happen to you in your own front yard," Mr White said.

The ARSF found that one in three regional NSW parents admit to breaking road laws or undertaking risky behaviour when their own children are in the car.

Added to this, one in five of the region's parents admit to taking the same risks when driving a vehicle occupied by someone else's children.