16 May 2023

Driver responsibility focus of National Road Safety Week to stop 'far too many deaths' on our roads

| Claire Fenwicke
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white crosses in the ground

‘Drive so others survive’ is the key message for this year’s National Road Safety Week. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Twenty white crosses flanked by wreaths represent the people killed on Canberra’s roads since the start of 2022.

They were erected to mark the start of this year’s National Road Safety Week, with driver responsibility once again in the spotlight as a key cause of preventable crashes and deaths.

ACT Policing Deputy Chief Police Officer Doug Boudry said even two deaths on Canberra’s roads so far this year – a man on William Hovell Drive in January and a man in Watson in February – were two too many.

“I think every week should be a road safety week for everyone,” he said.

DCPO Boudry said officers continued to aim for Vision Zero on our roads, but they needed motorists to “drive so others survive” to help bring down the trauma experienced on our roads.

“When you look at our messaging around the road toll, it’s very much about people not driving to the actual conditions, about speeding, about being distracted on their mobile phone, and driving while intoxicated,” he said.

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Transport Minister Chris Steel said this year’s message was particularly important, given three people died in crashes at the end of last year’s National Road Safety Week.

“Last year, some of these messages weren’t getting through to the community,” Mr Steel said.

“Unfortunately, we have seen far too many deaths over the last couple of years. The statistics are heading in the wrong direction and that’s why it’s important that we continue to get the messages out about driver responsibility on our roads.”

The fatal crashes included Matthew McLuckie’s death from a crash on 19 May, a man in a single car-crash in Belconnen on 20 May and a 53-year-old motorcyclist in Gowrie on 21 May.

Mr Steel said while the government was investing in better road infrastructure, vehicle registration legislation and strengthening policy – with both the new Road Safety Strategy Action Plan and road safety laws under review, and a committee inquiry into dangerous driving handing down its recommendations – in the end, it was down to the person behind the wheel.

“We can have all of the laws in place, we can have all the great infrastructure and safe vehicles, but if people want to do the wrong thing on the road by speeding or driving while intoxicated or looking at their mobile phone, then it creates a hazard for other road users that can result in serious injuries and death,” he said.

“It shatters families and they never quite get over it.

“At the end of the day, it’s really important that every single one of us who is driving on the road takes responsibility for other road users.”

There have also been more than 500 injuries due to crashes so far this year.

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Four drivers faced ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (15 May), charged with various driving offences at the weekend.

These include a 47-year-old Theodore woman charged with 10 driving and property offences after allegedly fleeing police following reports of a home break-in in Chisholm.

The woman’s accused of driving over a traffic island and roundabout, and crossing twice into the path of oncoming traffic on the wrong side of Isabella Drive while trying to evade police.

She’s also been charged with driving under the influence and breaching good behaviour obligations.

Another is a 25-year-old Monash man accused of driving dangerously onto the wrong side of the road, running two red lights, failing to give way and failing to stop for police while driving a vehicle with allegedly stolen plates.

A single-vehicle collision in Wanniassa resulted in the arrest of a 58-year-old Kambah man, who faced a charge of level four drink driving after allegedly returning a roadside breath test result of 0.197 – nearly four times the legal limit.

Finally, a 40-year-old Hackett woman has faced charges of driving while disqualified and breaching good behaviour obligations after allegedly being spotted behind the wheel in Watson.

Police said she had recently been disqualified from driving for 12 months in April.

Landmarks across the Territory will be illuminated in yellow to mark National Road Safety Week.

Canberrans have been urged to take the pledge to drive so others survive and to remember to stay within the speed limit, wear a seatbelt, drive to the conditions, look out for vulnerable road users, leave the phone alone, and not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Why is driver education always omitted as an option in these style of articles.

Thieves stealing cars and crashing, killing or injuring persons should not be included in normal driver behaviour statistics

20 white crosses do nothing. Vacuous words from vacuous politicians and senior police. If it was so important there would be a lot more traffic police on the road, much larger fines for offences, and mandatory vehicle impounds and ceasures than there are. In fact, are there any?

I invite senior traffic police to ride with me in my car and do something about the drivers in Hi-vis, the tradies and the NSW plated cars that break the road rules daily. Excessive speed, dangerous driving and tailgating are a daily occurence I observe when I drive.

@Craig Shaw
I absolutely agree with you. Given the Barr/Rattenbury government’s penchant for revenue raising, I cannot understand why there are not more speed camera vans out and about – especially in areas which have temporarily adjusted speed limits for road works. The increased vans would be self funding and some.

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