YOUNG sporting club members in Western Victoria driving on country roads will be the target of a new organisation's initial campaign.
Donald Gibb, who in the 1970s pressured the government to make wearing seat belts compulsory in Victoria, is preparing to launch the Road Safety Promotion Association.
The organisation will seek to educate drivers on the main causes of death and injury on Victorian roads, to improve their safety.
Several Wimmera sports clubs have said they are happy to be a part of any new campaign, in addition to their own long-running initiatives including transport and awareness campaigns.
Mr Gibb said he hoped for the group to ultimately be nationwide, but in the first instance it would focus on six shires including Ararat Rural City - and on safety fordrivers and passengers associated with the area's sporting clubs.
"In regional and rural areas, anyone playing sport inevitably has to travel long distances, a lot of it on backroads," he said.
"We accept younger drivers don't have the hazard perception of older drivers, and therefore sporting clubs have got to bring this to the attention of their members.
"Our mission is to deliver presentations to sporting clubs, and virtual reality caravans promoting improved driver, passenger and rider behaviour."
Transport Accident Commission data shows 70 people aged 20 to 30 lost their lives on Victorian roads in 2019, up from 44 in 2018.
Mr Gibb said: "We want to do an in-depth analysis of the road toll across Ballarat and Ararat... at the end of 2020 to show trends compared with 2019. If we get the money we will do TV commercials too.
"In view of current bushfire and drought focus, RoSPA will be relying on volunteer input for the next twelve months. Funding will be sought in early 2021 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
"Later on RoSPA will reinforce the road safety messages to younger drivers in sporting clubs, with filmed commercials similar to what they used successfully in Scotland."
Mr Gibb said clubs interested in working with him could contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ararat Rats Football Netball Club president David Hosking echoed Mr Gibb's comments that his players were exposed to hazards while driving by virtue of road conditions.
"I believe there is a direct correlation between the quality of roads and the higher road toll last year," he said. "I don't believe people suddenly got worse at driving."
"We encourage people to drive sensibly, but... we drive on ordinary roads to attend matches in places like Murtoa and Warracknabeal. Our players and volunteers drive themselves and they carpool - there could be as many as five people in one vehicle, and we're one incident away from a tragedy."
The Rats play Nhill every year for the Road Safe Cup - a game which aims to shine a light on driver fatigue - due to the two clubs having to travel the furthest of any two teams in the Wimmera Football League to play each other.
Minyip-Murtoa president Scott Arnold said the club had been running a bus to and from training and matches to help players cut down on their hours on the road.
"We've had that for about ten years and also run a bus to all our social functions," he said.
Mr Arnold said the TAC and AFL Victoria-co-ordinated Towards Zero Round on August 3 and 4 also helped clubs promote road safety.
"All the captains wore the number zero on their guernseys. It gave clubs like ourselves a real targeted message. We'll be eligible for Towards Zero funding later this year too," he said.
"We all know how the younger demographic is prone to taking risks, and we target this with drug and alcohol policies and those link in with road safety."
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