SOURCE: Bunbury Mail
A startling increase in road fatalities in regional WA has police and the state government concerned despite Australia recording its lowest national road toll in 69 years in 2014.
There were 1155 fatalities on Australian roads last year which is the lowest figure since 1945.
However, the 184 fatalities on Western Australian roads last year was at a four year high and the 102 deaths in regional areas was a 39 per cent increase from 2013.
The state-wide road toll is an increase of 12.8 per cent on 2013.
South Australia and Victoria also saw a statewide increase in road deaths in 2014 with a 10.3 per cent and 2.46 per cent increase respectively. But, New South Wale and Queensland both saw their fatality rate decrease dramatically.
RAC spokeswoman Liz Carey said 2014 was a bad year on WA roads and our state continued to perform worse than the national fatality rate.
The organisation found that an increase in the deaths of cyclists and motorcyclists and an increase of nearly 40 per cent of deaths on regional roads contributed to the overall increase in road fatalities.
“Western Australia’s fatality rate has been dropping since the start of 2011, so it is really disappointing to see the state going backwards,” Ms Carey said.
“As a community we need to ensure we do everything we can to help continue to bring Western Australia’s road fatality rate down.”
For every woman who lost her life on a Western Australian road in 2014, close to another four men were killed.
In January, WA police assistant commissioner Nick Anticich announced a new initiative for this year where officers hope to personally deliver letters to hoon drivers who continually put other motorists’ lives at risk.
He said drivers who have accured a large number of demerit points would be targeted with the hope the letter and a visit from officers would change the driver’s behaviour.
“We would much rather be there talking to the family and delivering a letter than turning up and announcing the death of a loved one,” assistant commissioner Anticich said.
Of the 1.6 million license holders in WA, 16,000 or one per cent have accrued the maximum 12 or more demerit points and had their license suspended.
Mr Anticich said 23 per cent of drivers who were at fault in crashes did not have a valid driver’s license.
“It is our belief that a core group of people who have previously been convicted for similar type of offending that are likely to appear predominately in fatal and serious crashes,” he said.
The state government has also launched a three prong response to help lower the road toll.
Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said the response would target three major components of the road toll – speed, motorcycle fatalities and country road crashes.
The plans include the installation of four additional fixed speed cameras in the metropolitan area and a motorcycle safety review group conducting a detailed analysis of the serious and fatal motorcycle crashes from the past five years.
“The group will look at crash types, locations and factors to establish clear measures to improve rider safety,” Ms Harvey said.
There will also be a trial of the Regional Highway Safety Review which will see multiple agencies travel notorious sections of highway to identify practical measures to improve safety.
*In 2015 Fairfax Regional Media WA, the publisher of this website, is running a road safety campaign called Arrive Alive in an effort to help reduce the number of deaths on WA roads.
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