Safety plea after horror year

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Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia has pleaded for motorists to buckle up and stay safe on the roads after one of the worst road tolls for the South West in two years.
Camera IconRoad Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia has pleaded for motorists to buckle up and stay safe on the roads after one of the worst road tolls for the South West in two years. Credit: The West Australian, Danella Bevis

WA Road Safety Commissioner Kim Papalia has put out an impassioned plea for drivers to take care behind the wheel in the wake of the State’s worst road toll in two years.

Figures released by RAC this week showed 25 people died on South West roads in 2016, up seven on the previous year.

Mr Papalia said six of those were not wearing seatbelts.

“Seatbelts became mandatory in Western Australia in 1971 ... yet people still fail to belt up when they get in their vehicle,” he said.

“Seatbelts save lives and are one of the easiest ways to protect a person in a vehicle in the event of crash.”

Mr Papalia said there was also a spike in motorcycle fatalities in WA, with 37 deaths in 2016.

In the South West, 23 per cent of the road deaths in the region last year were motorcycle-related.

“To see the number of deaths on the road rise in the South West in 2016 is heartbreaking,” Mr Papalia said.

“It’s tragic for loved ones left behind, for friends and colleagues and for entire communities.”

Mr Papalia said there had been more deaths occurring on regional roads across Australia.

“This tragic trend reflects a national challenge for regional communities and individuals to reduce the amount of road trauma in the region,” he said.

“While we can build safer and more forgiving roads and we can promote safer vehicles on our roads, ultimately it comes down to the occupants of the car.”

RAC corporate affairs general manager Will Golsby said every life lost on WA roads was one too many and each one had a lasting effect in the community.

Mr Golsby said road fatalities in regional WA remained unacceptably high and said the South West’s fatality rate was about double the State rate.

“On top of that, Western Australia’s fatality rate is once again higher than the national average,” he said.

“As a community we cannot continue to be complacent, we can and need to do more to stop fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.”

Among the incidents in the South West was a double fatality in Ludlow in January, as well as a single-car fatality in Hithergreen in June.

Mr Papalia called on communities to address the road toll and said driving while tired, under the influence of drugs or prescription medication, and speeding, could have “sudden and fatal” consequences.

“Individually and as a community we need to engage and act to reduce death and serious injury on our roads, silence condones consequence, when we see something that needs to change; we must say or do something,” he said.

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