WHO Report 2015: Road safety is a global health issue – Part Two

A busy road in Kolkata, India. Find out why the World Health Organisation classifies road trauma as a health issue in part one of WHO Report 2015: Road Safety is a global health issue.

What are we doing in Victoria?

Towards Zero is a joint partnership between the Victorian Government, TAC, Victoria Police, VicRoads and the Department of Justice and Regulation to end the epidemic of road deaths and serious injuries in Victoria. As well as working on coordinated projects together to create safer roads, safer speeds , safer vehicles and safer people, a refreshed road safety strategy is due to be released in 2016 with the goal of reducing road trauma by 20% in 2020 – under 200 lives lost within five years.

One of the major Towards Zero projects is the Safer System Roads Infrastructure Program (SSRIP), a partnership between the TAC and VicRoads where $1 billion is being invested in turning Victoria's riskiest roads into some of the safest over the next ten years. Find out more about it here.

Each agency is also working independently on reducing road trauma. In 2014-15, for example, the TAC invested over $150 million in prevention through upgrades to infrastructure, safety initiatives, education programs, enforcement, marketing and strategic partnerships.

Find out how the agencies are doing to reach Towards Zero.

What are we doing to help other regions?

According to the WHO report, even though low- and middle-income countries have around half of the world's vehicles, they account for 90% of the world's road deaths. This situation is due to their economic growth and rapid motorisation (a 16% increase in three years) without the necessary infrastructure and road safety initiatives to match.

Road trauma is an even heavier burden on health in lower income countries because there is less access to medical services and chances of recovery are relatively lower. In these countries, the main causes of crashes are connected to speed, not wearing a helmet, alcohol and not using child restraints.

View the Roads Kill Map by the Pulitzer Centre.

Over several decades, Victoria has made substantial gains in addressing these four areas. From introducing a legal Blood Alcohol Concentration level of 0.05 and random breath testing to legal requirements for child restraints and helmets for cyclists and motorcyclists, who are among our most vulnerable road users.

While there is a lot more we can do in reaching Towards Zero; Victoria has been a world leader in road safety since 1970 when the government at the time was the first in the world to introduce compulsory seatbelt laws, and again in 1986 with the creation of the Transport Accident Commission.

The no-fault insurance scheme has been so successful other governments, such as South Africa  and Namibia, have visited Victoria and talked to the TAC before adopting similar schemes to help people in recovery from road crashes and with compensation.

Australia is committed to the WHO-led UN Road Safety Collaboration's Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 which aims to save 5 million lives by improving global road safety. The collaboration's pillars focus on better road safety management, infrastructure, vehicle safety, road user behaviour, education and the post-crash response.

WHO acknowledges public awareness and education campaigns are essential in creating positive change in road users' behaviour, and the TAC is well regarded for in this area. Requests to use the TAC's affecting advertising campaigns have come from near and far. The Queensland government has used the motorcycle campaign called The Perfect Ride, while in 2012, China was given permission to remake Glasses and 10km/h Less (Pizza Man),and to play Slo Mo and Haunted with a Chinese voiceover. At the time, China had 20.8 people killed per 100,000; in 2015 that number reduced down to 18.8 per 100,000. Other countries that have used TAC ads include Ireland and Bosnia. The TAC also contributes its ads to the WHO's online library of road safety campaigns, so regions without access to YouTube can view them.

With the Towards Zero approach, along with shifting away from clinical-sounding language, the way we communicate with Victorians is evolving from what people are used to. Campaigns are less about shock and instead aim to give the community ownership of the issue by personalising road trauma and getting people to understand that they have a role in preventing it.