Twenty-seven people have died on Tasmania's roads so far this year.
That is 27 families who have lost a loved one, 27 crash scenes emergency services have been exposed to, 27 funerals, 27 burials, 27 stories of tragedy.
And for the most part, those tragedies could have been prevented.
Road safety is not a new message, but it is a message that continues to fall on deaf ears.
Drivers continue to speed, use their mobile phones, and get behind the wheel drunk or under the influence of drugs. Something needs to change.
Complete this survey to have your say:
In 2017, The Examiner launched a road safety campaign - In Your Hands.
The campaign rolled out across the Christmas and New Year period, when road crashes are notoriously high.
It focused on the victim's stories, and the ripple effect road tragedy has on communities.
While the initiative highlighted the devastation of the state's rising road toll, that road toll has not changed.
IN YOUR HANDS STORIES:
Now, The Examiner is launching a new campaign, asking readers to be involved. Editor Courtney Greisbach said change needed to happen, but that change needed to start with a community conversation.
"A road safety message is not getting results," Greisbach said.
"Too many people are either dying on our roads, are seriously injured or continue to appear in court for speeding and alcohol offences. Something isn't adding up. So we've decided to do something about it."
More people have died on Tasmania's roads in 2020 compared with this time last year, despite the coronavirus pandemic reducing traffic across the country.
The state recorded a slight increase in fatalities, while all other states and territories except Queensland saw a reduction in the months leading up to the end of July.
Road Safety Advisory Council chairman Garry Bailey said it was a "major public health issue".
"But people don't treat it as such," he said.
"There is an acceptance that people will always be killed or injured on our roads, it's just part of life. The Road Safety Advisory Council doesn't accept that and has a vision of no serious road crash casualties, but we are a long way from there."
At the end of July, the state also had the second highest number of deaths per 100,000 people, with 5.77.
The Northern Territory had the highest with 13.09 per 100,000 and Victoria had the lowest rate with 3.48.
"If road trauma continues at the same rate, more than 170 Tasmanians could die on our roads over the next five years and 1500 could be seriously injured," Mr Bailey said.
"But if Tasmania's road safety performance matches the best in the nation, we can save 66 lives over the same period. We are a long way from making the goal reality, so we have to think and act differently.
"The problem is best understood by examining the causes and types of serious casualty crashes."
IN OTHER NEWS:
In Tasmania, 65 per cent of serious crashes happen on rural roads, with 43 per cent of drivers ending up off the road or in another lane.
Five of the 27 deaths this year involved a driver running off the road, while 13 of those were a head-on crash.
A consistent factor in those crashes was a driver doing the wrong thing.
"Driving is a complex task so it requires a high level of concentration and attention," Mr Bailey said.
While driver education is vital in preventing road tragedy, some safety strategies in the state also centre around general deterrence and punishment.
Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said the department was "committed to improving driver behaviour" through traffic law enforcement.
"Police are committed to serving and protecting their communities - this includes policing the roads to improve driver behaviour, with the aim of ensuring everyone gets home safely," he said.
"So far this year 27 people have died on our roads, that's devastating, and 27 too many."
With a focus on the Fatal Five, police target drivers through both high and low-visibility patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles.
The Fatal Five includes speeding, distraction, fatigue, failure to wear a seatbelt, and alcohol and drug driving.
On average, 29 per cent of serious crashes in Tasmania were caused by speeding, 24 per cent by drugs or alcohol, and another 24 per cent involved distraction, while 9 per cent of drivers involved in a crash did not wear a seatbelt and 4 per cent were fatigued.
"Whilst most motorists do the right thing on our roads there's a minority that don't, and I urge those motorists to think before travelling," Commissioner Hine said.
"There are penalties for disobeying the road rules and driving dangerously, but the real punishment could be seriously injuring or killing yourself or someone else.
"Deaths on our roads can be avoided, but at the end of the day, police can't do it alone. We need Tasmanians to take road safety seriously and remember that it's not just their life on the line."
Beyond education and punishment, safer infrastructure is also being addressed in the fight to reduce the state's road toll.
Mr Bailey said it was about having a "system-wide approach".
"It's not about identifying black spots, it is about making the whole system safer," he said.
"One of the most effective ways of saving lives and reducing serious injuries is preventing head-on and run off road crashes."
One of the many campaigns launched by RSAC Tasmania focused on safety barriers in particular as a preventative measure.
"Flexible wire rope barriers slow or stop a vehicle that has gone out of its lane," Mr Bailey said.
"The barriers are part of the $500 million Midland Highway upgrade. Road managers are working to improve the road environment that includes infrastructure and encouraging road users to use the system responsibly."
Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson said while the state government was continuing to invest heavily in creating safer roads, the responsibility fell "largely" on drivers to do the right thing.
"Every life lost is one too many, the only target we should have is zero deaths and we should be aiming for that together," he said.
"Where we don't achieve that or where we see a worse year than previous years we should be prepared to challenge ourselves, not the government, not police, but the community and each other to admit that we are not doing a good enough job."
The 2020-2024 Towards Zero Action Plan details $75 million in road safety improvements by the state government, planned over the next five years.
More than $20 million of that funding would be invested in rural roads, including infrastructure upgrades, speed changes and a focus on motorcycle safety.
As for the city, more than $31 million will be dedicated to improving conditions particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, who make up at least one quarter of all serious injuries and deaths that happen on suburban streets with a speed limit of 50km/h or less.
The overall target of the action plan remains a reduction in serious injuries and fatalities.
The goal is less than 200 annually by 2026, with about 300 people currently killed or seriously injured on the state's roads each year.
"For a very long time we have focused our efforts on reducing the prevalence of high-risk behaviours by road users, risks such as speeding, drink and drug driving, driving fatigued, and so on," Mr Bailey said.
"We have made gains in this area, for example, high intensity Random Breath Testing has substantially reduced the role of alcohol in serious crashes. While we must continue our efforts to limit high risk and irresponsible behaviours, we must also look for other ways to supplement these efforts.
"Extensive research has clearly demonstrated that much of the behaviour contributing to crashes is not irresponsible or negligent, but the result of imperfect humans making everyday mistakes."
As part of the launch of The Examiner's Stop. Think. Drive campaign, readers are being invited to help create the narrative and push for change by sharing their thoughts on the state's current road rules, penalties, and infrastructure.
Send us a letter to the editor: