Imagine if our nation was providing a defence force to combat war overseas, and that 25 soldiers were dying and 700 were being seriously injured each week - week after week, year after year. Imagine if there was no end in sight, and the wartime fatalities had increased in the last calendar year compared to the year before. The public and political pressure to end these mass casualties would be immense.
Imagine if there were 5 Boeing 737 crashes every week in Australia, with 25 passengers dying and 700 being seriously injured each week. The public outcry would be enormous, the effects on our nation soul destroying. Every effort would be made to stem this tide of death and injury.
Imagine if there was an epidemic that consistently, year after year, was the leading cause of casualty in our population for 1-14 year olds. Imagine if it was the 2nd highest cause of death and injury in our young people between the ages of 15-24. The forces mobilised to counteract this epidemic would be enormous.
Imagine the effects on health systems if our hospitals were dealing with the injured from these plane crashes, war events or epidemics – 700 people each week - reaching the emergency doors with serious injuries, enduring lengthy hospital stays and for some a lifetime of disability.
Imagine the strain on our disability services and community support structures if our communities were dealing with these injured people –700 people per week - some requiring extensive and costly lifetime support.
Imagine the consequences of these deaths and injuries on our communities – the 25 deaths each week resulting in outpourings of grief from our families and communities, and the 700 people each week who are released from hospital, some to be cared for by families and communities over the longer term.
Imagine if the annual cost to our economy of these plane crashes, wartime efforts or epidemics was estimated to be over $27 billion in 2011, and had risen to at least $32 billion by 2016, and continued to increase each year over and above CPI. This is more than Australia’s current annual defence budget of $31.9 billion (Department of Defence, 2015). The political and social pressure to solve this problem would be enormous.
This is the road trauma REALITY
25 people dead and 700 seriously injured every week in Australia.
Week after week. Year after year. And Rising.
The impact of road trauma is all-encompassing, impacting the full spectrum of the political agenda. A much stronger focus on saving lives and injuries on our roads, covering all age groups and user groups, all the factors in roads and vehicles, and including all facets of road crashes such as trauma services and post-crash care, would have a major impact on Australia’s economic and social well-being. There are many simple and cost effective solutions.
The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) is calling on our politicians to provide strong leadership and support for a coordinated approach towards road trauma reductions. The above facts are included in the ACRS submission to Federal Parliamentarians. I urge our State Parliamentarians to recognise these facts and also provide strong leadership and support for a coordinated approach towards road trauma reductions in Western Australia.
David Wilkins, Principal & Senior Traffic Engineer.