Posted on: October 1, 2019 at 1:20 PM    

Last week, several of us at Abley were lucky enough to attend the Australasian Road Safety Conference in Adelaide. Adelaide is a beautiful city, being surrounded by parks and with trams bustling through the main city streets. Directly north of the Adelaide Conference Centre is the River Torrens, the riverbanks of which provide excellent views of the city skyline and Adelaide Oval. The city has an easily navigable grid layout, very similar to Christchurch (apparently designed by the same city planner!). We were lucky enough to experience some of the excellent South Australian wines and cuisine on offer through the various social and networking activities held during the conference.

The conference brought together over 500 road safety professionals and advocates from across Australia, New Zealand and further afield. The focus of the conference was clear – the only acceptable number of deaths on our roads is zero.

Through the presentations we attended it was clear that plenty of good work is being done in the research and study of road safety. Some highlights included:

  • Bernard Carlon: Transport for NSW - A trial in New South Wales which used Artificial Intelligence to detect cellphone use in vehicles.
  • Will Warner: Transport for NSW - Achievement of zero deaths in school zones for the past several years in New South Wales following their focus on Safety around Schools.
  • Claire Dixon and Rachel Elisaia-Hopa: Auckland Transport - A passionate presentation by Rachel about a grassroots driver licensing scheme for Maori which has successfully helped hundreds of people overcome their fears of the licencing testing regime and attain their licence through relationship building and teaching in a way that is relatable.
  • Chris Davis: Mildura City Council – Successfully engaging with the Mildura community to install 40km/h zones throughout the city and showing that a Safe System compliant roundabout can be built for less than $50,000AUD.
  • Rob McInerney: iRAP – Why do we accept road safety deaths? Because they happen one-by-one. We need to combat this with road safety improvements which save lives one-by-one.
  • Peter Kolesnik, Department of Transport and Main Roads (3M-ACRS Diamond Road Safety Award winner) – An intelligent crash avoidance system installed in traffic controller cabinets at signalized intersections. The system utilises radar to determine if vehicles approaching the intersection will stop in time for the red phase, and extends the all red phase if a vehicle is not anticipated to stop in time.  Thereby reducing the likelihood of a crash occurring with a red light running vehicle.  
  • Ken Beer: Safe Systems Solutions – integrating safe system principles into road safety auditing. Summarising the changes coming (and implemented) to the Austroads Guide to Road Safety (Part 6).

In his closing address, Jeremy Woolley reflected on the fact that some impetus seems to have been lost following the report into the inquest into Road Safety issued in September 2018. The report was intended to have the opposite effect – to encourage urgent and unprecedented investment in road safety treatments. Through my conversations with others at the conference, this appeared to be a common opinion held by professionals attending the event – not enough funding or action is being directed to put into practice the excellent research and analysis which has already been completed.

It is a great reminder that everyone working in areas which affect road safety needs to push each other and our politicians to make safety a non-negotiable priority in whatever projects we work on.

Written by Carl O’Neil and Bridget Carden

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