Road trauma devastates families and communities in Mid West WA

A man died when the car he was driving collided with a truck near Eneabba on October 5. Picture: Channel 7
A man died when the car he was driving collided with a truck near Eneabba on October 5. Picture: Channel 7

Report: Anita Kirkbright

Western Australia’s Mid West region is reeling from the loss of nine lives on local roads in the past five months and the State suffers more road fatalities per 100,000 people (7.2) than the national fatality rate (4.9), but it appears driver education is helping to reduce the number of fatalities.

According to a 2011 report for WA Health, the death of one person in a road trauma is estimated to have a significant affect on at least 13 people.

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Road trauma also has a ripple effect on the entire community and can have a devastating impact on first responders.

Roadwise chairman and retired police officer Bob Hall told The Geraldton Guardian police officers and emergency workers involved in responding to recent road traumas and other tragedies should seek counselling and appropriate services. He said drivers must be mindful of the affect their decisions have on other road users and the entire community.

“It only takes seven-tenths of one second to die in a serious crash,” Mr Hall said.

Drive safe sign near Geraldton Cemetery, WA. Picture: Anita Kirkbright
Drive safe sign near Geraldton Cemetery, WA. Picture: Anita Kirkbright

Fatalities have dropped about 25 per cent since the introduction of the Government’s Towards Zero road safety strategy in 2008, according to minister for road safety Liza Harvey. She said the Government continued to work to reduce road trauma through early intervention such as alcohol interlocks, school education programs and police visiting repeat offenders at home.

Towards Zero aims to influence road users to be compliant, alert and safety conscious and promotes road safety through safe road use, safe roads and roadsides, safe speeds and safe vehicles.

In 2014, drivers aged 17 to 24 accounted for 22 per cent of all WA road fatalities. An RAC young driver survey showed almost 50 per cent of respondents used their phone while driving and a further 20 per cent checked social media.

“These results are worrying, and reinforce the need to educate young drivers about safe driving,” RAC senior manager media, Liz Carey said.

In July The Midwest Times reported that RAC and Paraplegic Benefit Fund would join Kalbarri Police, paramedics, fire officers and hospital staff to talk to students at Kalbarri District High School about the impact of road trauma in a bid to reduce the number of deaths and injuries to P-plate drivers. Students saw a rehearsed accident and enactment of the aftermath, from crash site to hospital.

Fatalities by region and year 2009-2014, Road Safety Commission
Fatalities by region and year 2009-2014, Road Safety Commission
Fatalities in WA by region and year, 2009-2014. Source: Road Safety Commission
Fatalities in WA by region and year, 2009-2014. Source: Road Safety Commission

According to WA Police statistics, there have been 122 road fatalities in WA between January 1 and October 6 this year, compared to 130 during the same period last year.

There were 184 fatalities on WA roads in 2014.

The RSC said most fatal and serious crashes in regional WA involve only one vehicle that had run off the road, collided with something or rolled over.

Three people died when the car they were in was hit from behind at Geraldton on August 17, 2015. Picture: The West Australian
Three people died when the car they were in was hit from behind at Geraldton on August 17, 2015. Picture: The West Australian

Click here for a timeline of recent road crashes in the Mid West

People who died in road crashes in WA’s Mid West in recent months include:

  • a grandfather who was driving a vehicle which hit a truck head-on on Brand Highway near Eneabba on October 5 [The West Australian],
  • a man who was thrown from a vehicle when it rolled near Mullewa on August 18 [The West Australian],
  • a Mount Tarcoola woman, 23, a Sunset Beach man, 27, and a Geraldton man, 31, who were in a car that was hit from behind by another vehicle and caught fire at Glenfield, Geraldton, on August 17 [The West Australian],
  • a person in a vehicle that rolled over on the road 30km south of Kalbarri on May 30 [WA Today],
  • a Geraldton man, 26, who was in a car struck head-on by another near Dongara on May 3 [ABC News Online],
  • a married couple from Walkaway whose vehicle ran off the road 50km east of Wicherina on April 12 [Geraldton Guardian].
There have been nine road fatalities in the Mid West region of Western Australia between April and October 2015.
There have been nine road fatalities in the Mid West region of Western Australia between April and October 2015.

Click here to view a map showing recent road crashes in WA’s Mid West

If you need support, call Road Trauma Support WA on 1300 004 814 (9am – 5pm WST, Monday to Friday) or Lifeline on 131114.