AIHW death data sparks fresh cry for Road Safety Commission
New data released today by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare has found that cyclists account for one in five hospitalisations from land transport crashes nationwide, prompting renewed calls for the establishment of a Road Safety Commission in Queensland.
Bicycle Queensland CEO Anne Savage said the report was an alarming reflection on the lack of priority given to safe and separated cycleways nationally.
“Every life lost or limited through road trauma is a preventable tragedy,” she said.
“This report is a call to action for governments and policy makers to invest in safe, separated bikeways and on-road protection that keeps cyclists safe from harm.
“In the three years from 2013 to 2016, nearly 90 per cent of cyclist-related deaths occurred on roads, but only 1 in 4 cyclist road crashes involved a motor vehicle.
“This suggests that factors such as lane widths, road design, speed limits, and on-street car parking may be causal factors in contributing to risks of cyclist deaths and hospitalisations.”
The AIHW report also highlighted a rise in the number of cyclists aged 45 and over being hurt and injured while cycling.
“We’re extremely alarmed by this trend, which may reflect changing patterns in participation rates and the involvement of more people in cycling for recreation and transport at later stages in life than was previously the case in Australia,” Savage said.
“Older cyclists are more vulnerable to injury and commonly experience poorer outcomes after injury – concerns which must be addressed through concerted strategies to protect our loved ones when they ride out of the driveway each morning.
“Greater investment in overall cyclist safety is imperative.”
Bicycle Queensland has called on the State Government to establish a Queensland Road Safety Commission in order to counter the rising threats of fatigue, speed, driver distraction, and drug and alcohol use while driving.
“Every death and injury on our roads is avoidable – we must do more to ensure that nobody in our community has to suffer the unbearable grief and agony of a loved one lost to road tragedy,” she said.
“We must find new ways of approaching road safety, bringing different authorities and experts to one table under the guidance of a dedicated Commission, to realise the goal of zero deaths on our roads.”
According to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, each person taken to hospital as a result of a road crash is estimated to cost Queenslanders about $500,000.
Each serious brain injury is estimated to cost the community up to $4.8 million and each spinal injury costs about $9.5 million.
“Road trauma has lifelong repercussions for individuals, families, workplaces, and communities,” Ms Savage said.
“New approaches are needed to ensure high-level oversight and coordination of strategies across different disciplines, bringing together researchers, policy makers, enforcement authorities, and infrastructure safety experts.
“We lost 247 Queenslanders in road crashes last year, representing a 20 per cent increase in driver fatalities and a 58 per cent increase in fatalities involving heavy vehicles.
“The number injured and seriously hurt is equally unacceptable – for every single fatality, over 24 people are hospitalised because of road crashes.
“A Queensland Road Safety Commission is urgently needed to end our road safety crisis and create a healthy and safe transport future for Queensland.
“A Commission would enable greater coordination of efforts to combat tragedies on our roads through innovation and engagement – bringing together key players to share knowledge and find solutions.
“Importantly, it would drive a wholly collaborative approach across the public, private, and community sectors, harnessing existing knowledge to deliver improved road safety outcomes for all Queenslanders.
“All cyclist deaths and injuries on Queensland roads are avoidable – we must do more to ensure that nobody in our community has to suffer the unbearable grief and impairment caused by road crashes.”
Click here to read the AIHW Report.