RAA observes National Road Safety Week 2020

POLICING: Superintendent Mark Syrus outside the Port Pirie Police station.
POLICING: Superintendent Mark Syrus outside the Port Pirie Police station.

A list of the state's worst regions for road fatalities has been released in an effort to reduce trauma, with the Yorke and Mid North disturbingly named the worst after recording 129 deaths between 2010-19.

Data revealed by RAA further reports that many motorists are almost as fearful of distracted drivers as they are of drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Details fall as the state's peak mobility body marks National Road Safety Week, which began on Sunday, by urging all road users to be vigilant, including those behind the wheel.

The safety week highlights the impact of road trauma and campaigns to reduce the number of crashes due to unsafe roads and driving.

The Murray Mallee followed Yorke and the Mid North with 110 lives lost of their own.

SA regional road fatalities 2010-19, 575

  • Yorke and Mid North 129
  • Murray Mallee 110
  • Limestone Coast 86
  • Far North 67
  • Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island 62
  • Eyre Peninsula and West Coast 61
  • Barossa Valley, Light and Lower North 60

When asked by The Recorder about the region's top placing on the road trauma list, acting officer in charge Traffic Services Branch Cindy Healey pointed to driver distraction.

"More than half of all lives lost on South Australian roads this year have been attributed to driver distraction. From 2015 - 2019, 43 per cent of deaths and 48 percent of serious injuries on our roads were attributed to inattention," officer Healy said.

"The complex task of driving is one that requires full attention and even the smallest lapse in concentration can have catastrophic consequences for drivers, passengers, riders and pedestrians.

"Driving while distracted can significantly impair reaction times, ability to maintain speed, judge safe gaps in traffic and notice other users on the road.

"The best advice is to focus entirely on driving, when behind the wheel. Leave mobile phones out of sight and if a child in the car needs your urgent attention, carefully pull over and attend to them. Do not interact with music players or attend to personal grooming while you're driving. Just drive.

Importantly, P plate and L plate drivers are not allowed to interact with a mobile phone at all whilst driving. Drivers with a full license are allowed to use voice activated commands to operate their phone but only if it is in a dedicated mobile phone cradle and does not involve touching the device.

RAA safety and infrastructure manager Charles Mountain said the results are due to a number of alarming factors.

It outlines higher speeds on rural roads compared with the majority of metropolitan roads, coupled with the often long distances travelled in these regions and driver fatigue.

Mr Mountain said driver distraction was a major safety hazard and contributor to road trauma - particularly at higher speeds on regional roads - with potentially fatal consequences.

He said RAA's recent road safety campaign Drive in the Moment, highlights that driver distraction had contributed to almost half the lives lost and people seriously injured on SA roads in the past five years.

"Regular police crackdowns on mobile phone use have also highlighted the number of motorists engaged in distracted driving, which is also reflected in RAA's latest Road Safety survey,'' Mr Mountain said.

The survey of more than 560 members found that 42 per cent rated distracted drivers a major road safety concern, second only to the 43 per cent who nominated drink and drug drivers.

Mr Mountain said there were numerous distractions potentially attracting drivers' attention on regional roads, such as looking at the scenery or waiting for a turn off.

These also included mobile phones, car stereos, passengers - especially young children - and GPS units.

"You need to be fully concentrated on the task at hand when driving, because at 110km per hour just a two second glance at your phone, stereo or crying child means you'll travel around 60 metres blind to what's around you,'' he said.

"Another issue motorists must be aware of when driving long distances is fatigue, which is why it's important they plan regular rest stops.''

Mr Mountain added that RAA advocates for ongoing government investment across our road network to minimise the risk of crashing and the severity of the resulting injuries.

The Adelaide Hills region is considered a metropolitan area by the SA Government for statistical recordings, with 67 deaths recorded from 2019-19.

National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative created by the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group and works to remember those who have lost their lives or been injured on Australia's roads.