The RAC wants the default speed limit on WA’s regional roads to fall from 110km/h to 100km/h, calling on the McGowan Government to “do more to tackle the unforgivably high number of people killed” on the State’s roads.
The organisation said “courageous leadership by a Government truly committed to saving lives today, not in years to come” was needed to achieve safer travel speeds, adding that WA had one of the “poorest road safety performances of all Australian States”.
Thirteen people have tragically lost their lives on WA roads this year, 11 of whom were on regional roads and four were in the South West.
WA had 165 road deaths last year, the highest since 2016, including 99 in regional areas. In a submission to the State Road Safety Strategy consultation, the RAC’s Patrick Walker said progress in road safety in the past 10 years in WA “has been unforgivably slow”.
He said WA speed limits were among the highest in the world.
South West Regional Road Group chairman Peter Robinson echoed the call, saying a reduction in the top speed would help stop the death toll climbing.
“I think it would be a fantastic move, saving families from the loss of a loved one or having to care for a loved one that has been seriously injured for the rest of their life,” he said.
“According to long-term data from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre, a reduction of 10km/h across our maximum speeds will lead to a decrease in the number of people who are killed and seriously injured on our roads.
“That’s evidence, not opinion.”
A RAC survey found most West Australians were against speed limit drops, with only 16 per cent of respondents in support. Men and young drivers were the most likely to oppose reductions. One in five admitted driving up to 5km/h above the limit most of the time.
Mr Walker said bipartisan support was needed to cut speed limits and improve community understanding of the impact of speed on crashes.
Mr Walker said the next strategy should set a more ambitious target to halve the number of people killed or seriously injured on WA roads over the next five years.
He called for the Road Safety Commission to report to a joint parliamentary standing committee instead of a minister, for all departments to have shared road safety key performance indicators and for the State to commit to a $900 million program to improve regional roads, regardless of Federal funding.
Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts said there was no plan for an across the board speed limit cut, adding: “Where, however, there is widespread community support for a review of a speed limit in an area, that will be considered.”
Speed reductions were already planned for Caves Road between Yallingup and Margaret River.
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