NEW and innovative initiatives are being developed to reduce the number of deaths on Australian roads.
One of these is a new Ballarat-based road safety initiative, which is preparing to launch across the nation.
The Road Safety Promotion Association (RoSPA), to be based from Ballarat, in Victoria's Central Highlands, is preparing to launch in coming weeks - with an aim to reduce deaths and serious injuries on rural, regional and remote Australian roads by promoting road safety messages.
The not-for-profit's convenor is Donald Gibb, who was an instrumental player in pressuring the government to make wearing seat belts mandatory in Victoria in the early 1970s in an effort to drive down the road toll.
While progress has been made in reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries in recent years, the 24.9 per cent increase in deaths on Victorian roads in 2019 prompted Mr Gibb to take action.
According to data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, two thirds of road deaths occur in regional or remote areas of Australia, compared to a third in major cities.
This proportion has not changed in the last 10 years.
Mr Gibb, who has continued to campaign for other road safety initiatives over the years, said this was the reason RoSPA had chosen to focus on rural, regional and remote Australia - through promoting road safety messages in the areas of seatbelts, drink driving and driver distraction.
Despite coronavirus restrictions, he has been engaged in discussions with service clubs and men's sheds across the nation, who have expressed interest in being involved with RoSPA's initial campaign.
This campaign will involve the distribution and display of posters with messages including 'Belt Up and Live' and 'Don't Drive Blind', to be pinned up in sporting clubrooms, in service stations and supermarkets.
A website is also to be launched shortly, with the messages to also be conveyed through both social media and traditional media channels.
New road safety program for young people
Meanwhile, with road trauma the biggest killer of Australians between the ages of one and 14, the Australian Road Safety Foundation has also launched a new initiative aimed at educating young people about road safety.
The initiative, called RoadSet, was created by the ARSF with funding from the Australian Government, to deliver "a new standard of road safety education" for young people before they obtain their learner's permit.
RoadSet is a free online interactive education tool aimed at Year 9 students and has been designed to teach young people how to be better road users.
Combining original animations with gamified interactions, it delivers immersive content through 10 modules. These modules are supported by curriculum-aligned teaching and learning resources, with RoadSet able to be integrated into Health and Physical Education classes or run as a separate wellbeing or road safety education program.
ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said the initiative was a new way of addressing road safety. He said it was an important innovation that would provide a national approach in age appropriate road safety education.
Mr White said it was the first step towards a more holistic learning platform for the next generation of road users, as it provided a framework for earlier road user education.
We need to remember that safety isn't just about drivers, but about all road users, and that includes children on bikes, skateboards, scooters or simply walking on foot.Russell White
"We need to remember that safety isn't just about drivers, but about all road users, and that includes children on bikes, skateboards, scooters or simply walking on foot," Mr White said.
"Our innovative approach is designed to increase road safety awareness skills in young Australians and highlight strategies to help prevent crashes and reduce road trauma. In this way, we are adding a layer of education to foster greater understanding and better behaviour that will save lives."
RoadSet is not just available to schools, but other sectors of the community too.
Adolescent Success executive officer Angela White said RoadSet empowered teenagers to take ownership of their own behaviour.
"Getting teenagers to pay attention to road safety messages can be a challenge. RoadSet's approach is refreshingly different and talks to students on their level," she said.
- The free RoadSet program can be found at: www.roadset.com.au