INTERNATIONAL road experts from countries with some of the most advanced road trauma plans say a zero road toll is achievable if we focus on the key factors that are driving our fatalities.
Road authorities across the globe are facing similar challenges as they attempt to drive down the road toll while growing numbers of motorists hit the road.
The UK, Sweden and other Scandinavian countries including Denmark are considered world leaders when it comes to creating road networks that will provide drivers with the greatest safety net if they crash.
Last year there was a significant spike in Victorian road deaths, with the number of fatalities in regional Victoria reaching their highest level in years.
In the North East in 2016, 21 people were killed in crashes while over the Border, another five people died in southern NSW.
Danish Road Safety Council’s head of documentation Jesper Solund believes Denmark can achieve its target of 120 fatalities by 2020 if it focuses on delivering infrastructure and car safety that can account for human error.
Mr Solund, who is planning a lecture tour of regional Victoria this year, hopes to share the Danish experience. The country has had some great success, halving its road toll in two years and nearing the target of 120 fatalities by 2020.
But like Victoria it experienced a spike in deaths in 2016.
The road safety commission has set the target of reaching 120 deaths, 1000 serious injuries and 1000 minor injuries by 2020. Victoria’s TAC aims to reduce fatalities to below 200 by 2020 and cut serious injuries by 15 per cent.
Mr Solund said the safety committee recognised the following as key challenges for road safety: speeding, alcohol and drugs, inattention, failure to wear seatbelts and helmets, pedestrians, cyclists, young drivers up to 24, single vehicle accidents and accidents at rural junctions.
TAC’s Samantha Cockfield said the authority was constantly turning to high-achieving countries like Sweden and the UK, consistently in the top 10 of safety performers, to determine which road safety methods can be applied to Victoria.
Traffic safety advisor from the Swedish Transport Administration Johan Strandroth said a zero road toll would be a “big challenge”.
Swedish research had shown roadside dividers were necessary on all roads with a limit of more than 80 km/h to achieve zero fatalities.
“If we are serious in getting close to zero and we want to keep roads 100 km/h and we want to have zero fatalities then we need dividers,” he said.
“If there is not enough money or willingness to divide the roads then the speed limit has to go down.”