13 September, 2017

Last year, on average, one person was killed on WA roads every two days. WA has the worst road fatality rate of any State. We take a look at the numbers and the why.

D espite modern cars being safer, mandatory seatbelt laws and stricter controls on driving under the influence, last year WA experienced its worst fatality rate in eight years, 35 more than the year before and the worst of any State.

The reason has been attributed to an increase in fatalities on regional roads, a rise in motorcycle fatalities and rising inattention.

"If you look past the statistics, it means every two days last year, families, friends and communities received the devastating news that a loved one was not coming home," says RAC's General Manager of Corporate Affairs Will Golsby.

Source: Road Safety Commission of WA annual crash statistics

When compared to other states, WA is actually one of the worst performers for road fatalities. It didn't used to be this way. Back in the 1990's, WA actually had one of the lowest road fatality rates in Australia. However, we've gone from being best in class to the worst in class, while other states like Victoria have consistently improved their road safety figures.

If in 2016 we had been on par with the national average, there would have been 55 lives saved in WA.   

A comparison of the WA fatality rate with Australia's rate
Source: Road Deaths Australia, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, 2016.

In 2016, one third of fatal crashes in WA were due to speeding. Nearly two per cent of WA drivers drove at 10km over the speed limit 'most of the time' according to the 2016 Report on Government Services, nearly double the national average.

The same report found that 1.6 per cent of our drivers admitted to “sometimes” driving over the legal alcohol limit: higher than the national average of 0.9 per cent.

Distracted driving is becoming such an issue that even Apple is introducing settings for iPhones so drivers can’t hear or see notifications pop up, and 86 per cent of West Australians rate driver distraction as a danger. 

An infographic showing the causes of Australian road fatalities
Source: Road safety statistics from relevant Transport Authority for each state

A study by ANCAP found an over-representation of older vehicles in fatal crashes, with the average age of a vehicle involved in a fatality being 12.9 years.

Older vehicles account for just 20 per cent of the national registered fleet of passenger vehicles but were involved in a third of fatal crashes. Newer cars (31 per cent of the fleet) were involved in just 13 per cent of fatal crashes. 

ANCAP also found you are twice as likely to be killed in a three star car, than in a five star car. Do you know what safety rating your car has?

An infographic showing how crashes affect old and new cars
Source: ANCAP


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We believe the only road toll that is acceptable is zero 

We're working to make that reality. RAC advocates for safety for all Western Australian through programs like Risky Roads and the Elephant in the Wheatbelt. We're also advocating to make it law that drivers reduce their speed when they see a breakdown or emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

What is SlowMo?

Teaching our kids to be safe around the roads

We believe it is never too early to teach our children to be safe around the roads. To do that, we have two special (and free) RAC memberships. RAC Little Legends Club® encourages primary school age kids to learn about bicycle, pedestrian and passenger safety. For older kids, RAC Road Ready is aimed at getting teenagers ready to drive. We also run a great range of in-school road safety education programs.

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