A NEW grassroots road safety campaign was launched in Ballarat on Friday morning.
The 'Save Lives' community road safety awareness and education campaign, which will be trialled in Ballarat, was developed by Donald Gibb, who has been involved in road safety promotion for many years.
The independent, not-for-profit, initiative will initially see two posters featuring the slogans 'belt up and live' and 'turn off before 05' distributed across Victoria to other sporting clubs by the Ballarat Netball Association.
Vice President of the Ballarat Netball Association, Jo Dash, said the association was aware of how many of its members and their families drive long distances to get to training, games and competitions and that was the reason it wanted to get involved.
Ms Dash said the association was often concerned about the effects of fatigue and distraction of its members on the roads with the game often requiring long stretches of travelling to get to different competitions across the region.
"It is one of our responsibilities because we have the welfare of so many young women in our group and we care about them off the court too," she said.
With more than 110,000 registered members participating in netball across the state it is hoped that the message will reach far and wide during a year where 83 per cent of the state's fatalities have occurred in regional Victoria.
Ms Dash said this statistic was shocking and so hoped that the campaign would deliver the message in a different way to an audience not often targeted in road safety campaigns - young girls and women.
She said the association was often concerned about the effects of fatigue and distraction with the game often requiring long stretches of travelling to get to different competitions across the region and said she hoped the campaign would inform not only its members but also their families of the dangers around driving.
"The range of ages we have is from juniors to adolescents and people driving a family around, so the netball association covers that whole gamut of predominantly women at all stages of their lives," she said.
"The netball community covers such a wide range of the grassroots community and that's who we are looking at targeting with this message."
The Ballarat Netball Association will be working with other associations to distribute as many posters as possible, especially in regional areas, where some players can travel two hours to attend games.
The idea behind 'Save Lives' is for it be become a long-term, non-profit road safety awareness and education program modelled on what has been done in the United Kingdom.
Scotland was recently recognised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in Birmingham for its work in significantly driving down its road toll through investing in road safety education, engineering and enforcement.
It's no accident that the two best performing countries in Europe for the lowest rate of fatalities per million population are the UK and Denmark.Donald Gibb
"Norway, Finland and Denmark's road safety record is world standing. The key to it is, and hopefully 'Save Lives' will get to this point, is creating a track record and credibility with parents and with community groups to move on to do other work with schools and groups."
'Save Lives' will display simple messages on posters around different road safety messages that are proven to work. Ballarat was chosen for the trial as it is a regional centre with a lot of sporting clubs and a number of universities.
"We are starting by targeting sporting associations and young farmers to get a track record and get the message into homes and around the kitchen table," Mr Gibb said.
This is about engaging and empowering the community to be constantly thinking of road safety. My vision is that every sporting club and change room in Victoria will have these posters .Donald Gibb
Once the posters have a track record, Save Lives can look for funding to expand to other municipalities and further educate on road safety messages.
Mr Gibb has been involved in road safety campaigns for decades.
In the 1970s he worked as a consultant with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons' Road Trauma Committee to put pressure on the government to make wearing seat belts compulsory in Victoria.
He went on to push for compulsory blood alcohol testing of injured drivers and then random breath testing.
These initiatives saw driver and passenger fatalities drop by a significant amount from the toll of 1061.
Mr Gibb hopes to measure the success of the campaign not by the number of fatalities but by working with hospitals to work out the injury patterns to focus the direction of the campaign.