In an effort to drastically reduce the road toll, speed limits across WA could be slashed by up to 10km/h following a bold proposal by the state’s Road Safety Council.
The dramatic shake up to road rules is part of two evidence-based proposals put forward for community feedback by the Road Safety Council which could see fatalities and serious injuries significantly reduced.
The Road Safety Council in WA claims that in the next decade 1,623 people will die and 15,955 will be injured if the state’s road rules are unchanged.
By dropping speed limits by 10km/h on all roads between 40km/h and 100km/h bar highways and freeways, the proposal predicts that fatalities would drop by 32% and serious injuries would fall by 34% between 2020 and 2030.
Speed zones of 110km/h would also be reduced by 10km/h to 100km/h with 40% of WA road fatalities over the last decade occurring on these roads.
This move would save the lives of 519 Western Australians and prevent the serious injury of another 5,477 people reducing a significant burden on the community.
Annual road safety funding would triple to between $150 million and $180 million.
The report suggests that introducing blood alcohol limits of zero and raising the age for P-plate drivers to 18 would not have much of an effect on the overall toll compared with dropping speed limits.
Road Safety Council chairman Iain Cameron told the West Australian, that the proposed changes would be “challenging” for the community, but WA was lagging behind the rest of Australia in making a dent in its road toll.
“Does our community think that’s good enough,” Mr Cameron said.
“Other countries are starting to look at zero and at 50 per cent reductions by 2030.
“The council’s perspective is we would like the community to look at what is possible. This has to be all of us pushing in the same direction.”
Speed plays a critical role in the cause and severity of crashes which is why Bicycle Network strongly supports and applauds the council’s bold proposal.
When considering the far-reaching impact of road trauma, nothing should be off the table and reducing speed is an ongoing campaign of ours.
Reducing speeds is a proven, cost effective, efficient and quick-to-implement tactic in addressing road trauma.
The Road Safety Council is inviting the community to give feedback on the proposals drafts a new strategy for the State Government to consider.
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Four ways slower speeds make our roads and communities better
Slower speeds improve driver vision
A driver’s peripheral vision is reduced at higher speeds. By proactively slowing speeds in complex road environments, we can influence safe driving behaviour by increasing driver depth perception and field of vision.
Slower speeds improve stopping time and chances of survival
At higher speeds, a car travels further during the reaction time from when the brakes are applied and the stopping distance is greater. This impacts the rate of momentum and energy at the point of the crash, impacting the severity of injury and chances of survival.
Slower speeds don’t make trips longer
In cities, average road speeds are more greatly determined by the frequency of intersections, rather than speed limits. In fact, slower speeds can create more uniform speeds and reduce midblock accelerations while adding little to journey times.
A speed limit of 30km/h rather than 50km/h has been shown to only add 18 seconds of travel time between intersections one kilometre apart.
Slower speeds create vibrant, livable communities
High speeds discourage people from riding their bikes for short trips – whether it’s to the local shops, school or even a mate's place – because they don’t feel safe or comfortable.
Local streets with high speeds prioritise the movement of cars, rather than the movement of people walking and cycling. This intimidating environment leads to less physical activity and social interaction.