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More than 170 road safety professionals, industry representatives, academics and members of the community have gathered in Brisbane this week to take part in Roads Australia’s Spotlight on Safety session.

Spotlight On Safety is an important part of Road Australia’s objective to lead policy discussions, facilitate opportunities for collaboration and champion policy, regulatory and community-driven solutions that will make a practical contribution to enhanced road safety outcomes.

RA President Michael Bushby noted in his opening remarks that it is “always important to acknowledge progress”, noting that Australia had come a long way since 1970, when almost 3,800 people died on Australian roads in a single year.

“As the harrowing personal stories related by several of our presenters throughout the day confirmed, road trauma also comes with a significant human cost,” Road Australia said in a statement.

“1,200 deaths on our roads each year – and 40,000 serious injuries – is a figure that remains far too high.”

The Spotlight on Safety event was an important opportunity for those working in the transport and infrastructure sectors to reaffirm their own commitment to reducing the occurrence of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.

Events like this are a reminder for all of our fleets to consider the role they play in keeping drivers safe. The topic of safety will also be a key focus of our upcoming 2021 Australasian Fleet Conference & Exhibition on May 20-21 in Melbourne.

Some of the key themes to emerge from the day were:

  • Enhancing the safety of road infrastructure itself is crucial, though the use of simple engineering measures such as audio-tactile line marking and widening and sealing shoulders;
    Setting bold targets is essential – and so is keeping authorities accountable for delivering them. The National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 needs to reflect this ambition and set out a credible pathway towards Vision Zero;
  • We must speed up adoption of technology-based solutions – whether to reduce driver distraction (eg, mobile phone detection cameras) or make sites safer for road workers by embracing digital solutions, reducing their exposure to physical dangers;
  • Driverless vehicle technology can boost safety and productivity outcomes – but we have to get the regulatory settings right to engender community confidence about the safety of driverless and connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs);
  • Despite knowing the dangers, too many Australians are taking risks by driving when fatigued or using mobile phones. Campaigns are needed to make these as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
  • Greater efforts are still required to enhance community understanding about everyday road use scenarios, including how to safety interact with heavy vehicles and exercise appropriate caution when driving around roadworks; and
  • Australia requires a considered, consistent approach to collecting data on incidents involving road workers. Only by fully understanding where and why incidents are occurring can industry and governments formulate effective policy responses.

As RA President Michael Bushby noted in his concluding comments, all of us have a responsibility to be “road safety warriors” and drive the cultural change needed to reduce the impact of road trauma.

The Australasian Fleet Management Association is a proud supporter of Road Safety Week on 16th-23rd May.