The one thing we can all do for safer roads

Fatalities on Tasmanian roads are markedly higher now, than this time last year.

As of February 8, the tally stands at seven, versus two.

Last year, The Examiner decided to take a stand on road safety, launching the In Your Hands series.

Over the summer and festive period, police officers, victims, and families left behind spoke candidly about the ripple of tragedy that fatal crashes have left in their lives.

But still, as individuals and as a media outlet, we see dangerous driving practices. We see and hear of speeding, reckless overtaking, tailgating, and drink-driving. All of these habits, and more, can lead to fatal crashes.

Whether the driver at fault or the innocent party is the causality, it is still a sad day for Tasmania. 

The Examiner spoke to Monash University Accident Research Centre fellow Dr David Logan about road safety.

Dr Logan said there were many elements that were needed to tackle road safety; two of those being driver behaviour, and safer infrastructure.

Infrastructure can refer to speed limits for appropriate road surfaces, upgrading the width or surface of roads, on installing barriers.

There is also non-physical infrastructure, in training and education.

Part of that was addressed by Labor this week, with the release of a plan to educate interstate drivers who plan to travel on Tasmania’s roads.

It is not dissimilar to the idea raised by Victorian politician James Purcell, who called for an online road rules test for international drivers.

Tasmania made a similar, but slightly more fun, attempt to educate international drivers in 2016, with the help of Bridestowe Lavender Farm’s iconic Bobbie the Bear.

Tourists do contribute to the state’s road toll – there have been about 20 tourist fatalities in the past five years, and hundreds more involved in serious crashes.

What Dr Logan said was true – a multifaceted approach is needed to road safety.

Some of it – infrastructure – will take years. Educating tourists about the conditions of our roads, and spreading the message about our road rules, is also not an overnight fix.

What we can change tomorrow, however, is our individual driving attitudes and habits.