WA shows room for road safety improvement

As a fleet manager, a key concern will be keeping your drivers safe behind the wheel.

With additional road crash safety technology built into many new vehicles, it is good to see that the number of fatalities on Australia's roads are indeed falling.

However, fleet operators will no doubt fear a day when they get a call saying one of their drivers has been in a car accident. While a strong workplace health and safety (WHS) policy and the resourceful use of technology will no doubt help to make this less of a concern, accidents are still a possibility.

Particularly so in Western Australia, a recent government media release explains.

According to the 2014 preliminary road statistics, there were 184 fatalities and 298 critical injuries on Western Australian roads last year - higher than any other state.

Although the number of road tolls in the territory has decreased by 24 per cent over the past six years, it is still enough to make fleet managers sit up and take note, particularly when considering that many of the deaths are preventable.

Seat belts and speeding

Out of the 115 known fatalities of vehicle occupants last year, almost a third (31 per cent) occurred while the occupant was not wearing seat belt, the research shows.

This will be a particularly worrisome statistic for operators, and shows how necessary it is to stress the importance of wearing seat belts among fleet drivers.

Speeding and drink driving, meanwhile, remained the two leading causes of road deaths in the state - the former certainly a consideration for managers looking to further educate drivers on WHS.

Improving the statistics

Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey said the widespread effects of a road fatality makes it everyone's responsibility to improve their on-road safety - wherever they are in Australia.

"The road toll isn't just a number. It represents people that are cherished by family and friends, who are left to deal with the grief of losing a loved one in sudden and tragic circumstances," she explained in this month's announcement.

"Road safety is a shared responsibility and everyone needs to play their part by making the conscious decision not to speed or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, wear a seatbelt and not to drive while tired or distracted."

Meanwhile, the Government of Western Australia is pumping more money into improving health and safety awareness in local communities.

The state recently provided $14,000 in funding for 13 local groups, as well as $360,000 throughout the year for grants programs and projects that promote road safety.