THE TRANSPORT Accident Commission believes road design will play a key role in achieving their new goal of zero fatalities on regional roads in years to come.
TAC CEO Joe Calafiore said the Towards Zero campaign focused on regional Victoria, where road users were three times more likely to be killed and 40 per cent more likely to be injured.
He said safer driver environments was part of a raft of strategies aimed at achieving the ideal figure of zero deaths and wanted the whole community to get behind the concept.
In the past year to date, there have been three road fatalities in Ballarat and 63 accidents involving hospitalisation between March 31, 2014 and March 31 this year.
Across Victoria, 249 people died in road accidents last year.
Mr Calafiore will address the Rural Press Club of Victoria in Ballarat next week about the new targets, asking local leaders to get onboard the Towards Zero campaign as he looks to “broaden out the call to arms”.
He said the campaign was a “shift in language”, a psychological move toward any road fatalities or serious injuries being unacceptable, and would encompass an all-of-system approach.
Mr Calafiore said he thought a zero road toll was realistic – perhaps not within the next year, but certainly within “our lifetimes”.
“When it comes to the road system, there is a view that it is inevitable that there is a road toll. In the 1970s that might have been the case, in 2000 that might be the case, but in 2015 with what we know about vehicle technology and road behaviour, there is no excuse the road toll is so high.”
He said it was a more ambitious approach, representing a higher level of community engagement from the TAC wanting support from local leaders to address everything from road conditions, speed limits, driver behaviour, driver education and vehicle technology.
Mr Calafiore particularly identified road conditions and installing road barriers to help create “forgiving environments” for motorists.
“TAC is currently working with VicRoads and Victoria Police, and the state government will be announcing its new road safety strategy towards the end of the year.”
Mr Calafiore said he expected Victoria to be close to a zero fatality state in the coming decades.
“In the next generation, there should be no reason why Victorians die on our roads.”
Mr Calafiore said while some fatalities were due to behaviour like speeding or drink driving, it was time to take a “more systemic view”.
“Police will enforce the laws and that will always be the case, but it’s time for new thinking and new ideas.”