Nearly three times as many people have died on the Ballarat region’s roads than last year, according to new figures.
In what represents the most lethal period on the region's roads in years, 13 people have lost their lives in car accidents so far in the Moorabool, Hepburn and Ballarat government areas alone.
Last year five people were killed in this region over 12 months. The figures are not unique - the state’s road toll has been tipped to hit 300 this year. This would mean 43 more deaths than last year and be the highest number of road fatalities in a decade.
Veteran road John Maher safety campaigner, who despairs at this figure, has made an impassioned plea for a clearer road safety strategy.
Mr Maher, whose daughter was killed in a fatigue related crash two decades ago, says road authorities need to hone in on key contributing factors including drugs, distraction and fatigue. He questioned the relatability of the TACs new campaign face Graham – a model figure touted as the only thing that could survive road trauma.
“At the moment it’s a mixed message that’s coming from the TAC – we need to be specific on how we get to get towards zero,” Mr Maher said.
The road toll currently stands at 16 per cent higher than this time last year prompting road authorities to scrutinize the cause of the surge.
TAC executive officer Joe Calafiore said all agencies needed to determine how rural roads, speed management and improvements to infrastructure could be implemented to reduce the toll.
“More than $340 million is being spent on high risk rural roads where nearly half of all deaths happen,” he said.
“We are focused on creating an environment that can prevent people from dying or being seriously injured on our roads,” Mr Calafiore said.
TAC statistics show men are dying on rural roads, with men almost three times more likely to die on Victoria’s roads than women, a figure the state's top police officer said should concern all Victorians.
“We haven’t seen trauma like this since 2008 and if we keep going this way, we’re going to top 300 this year,” Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said.
“187 people is really concerning and it should be for everyone.”
The TAC has stood by its program, maintaining its commitment delivering Towards Zero 2016-2020 Action Plan.
“The Action Plan gives us a clear plan to address deaths and serious injury and outlines the first actions we need to undertake to start the dramatic drop in road trauma we need to get to our 2020 targets,” acting chief Bruce Crossett said.
Monash University Accident Research Centre Associate Professor Michael Fitzharris said the community needed to be made aware of the impacts of serious injury.
“When we hear rhetoric that the road toll is coming down, it becomes more difficult to make challenging decisions and implement new safety strategies, and it fails to recognise the severe consequences of injury for people who are injured and whose lives are changed forever,” Professor Fitzharris said.
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