Madness on the roads needs to end

May 16, 2023 | Column

South Australia is having a horror start to the year on its roads.

The state’s fatalities are more than double the figure recorded at the same time last year, and about two thirds of those fatalities have happened on country roads.

Any life lost on the roads is too many and PPSA wants to see this year’s worrying trend turned around.

Even though drivers face huge costs when doing the wrong thing on the roads, and new technology is being brought in such as mobile phone cameras, drivers are still losing their lives at a concerning rate.

As the peak organisation representing the primary production sector in SA, PPSA is acutely aware of the vital role that safe, efficient and cost-effective transport plays in our state.

PPSA’s Transport and Supply Chain Committee has a major focus on improving safety outcomes for everyone on the roads.

Anecdotally, farmers and transporters are reporting more near misses on the roads, with impatience a major factor in these incidents. This reminds us that we can never be complacent when we get behind the wheel to share the road with others.

PPSA is launching its own campaign targeted at anyone travelling on regional roads and interacting with agricultural machinery, which is supported by funding provided by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.

A key message is the importance of patience, particularly because often when encountering agricultural machinery on the road, it is only being transported short distances.

Another key message is that agricultural machinery can’t always just pull over to let cars pass, as it’s not always safe or possible to do so.

Our call joins other campaigns such as SAPOL’s Road Safety Action Plan, which is targeting the “fatal five” – driver distraction, drink and drug driving, speeding, seat belts and dangerous road users.

NFF’s Sharing the Road education campaign and NHVR Common Roads, Common Sense campaign all shared a message about using the roads sensibly and safely.

The NHVR’s Don’t #Muck! With A Truck, which was launched late last year, is aimed at drivers aged 16 to 25 – a target audience that research had shown had poor awareness of how to interact safely with trucks.

The message needs to be amplified that moving large agricultural machinery on major roads is necessary to grow food and fibre for all Australians and the world, and patience is crucial when coming across this machinery on the road.

A study by James Cook University found that large agricultural vehicles posed a relatively low safety risk on our roads, but that greater public understandings was needed to minimise future risks.

Stretches of road that have been found to be the deadliest often have agricultural machinery travelling along them.

SAPOL figures show the Augusta Highway, between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta, is the state’s most dangerous stretch of road; followed by the Sturt Highway, from Renmark to Adelaide; and Princes Highway rounds out the top three. One thing all of these highways have in common is having plenty of large agricultural machinery transported along them.

PPSA wants to reinforce the message that by sharing the road correctly, we can all get home safely. No one wants a knock at the door in the middle of the night.

This column was written by PPSA Chair Professor Simon Maddocks and first appeared in the April 11, 2023 edition of the Stock Journal.

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