Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Tree in Kings Park dedicated to memory of 1997 road fatalities

    1/01/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today dedicated a tree in King's Park to the memory of the 197 people who died on Western Australian roads in 1997.


    Mr Charlton said the road toll was 50 less than the previous year's toll of 247 and represented a major achievement for the people of WA.


    At a special ceremony in King's Park, the Minister told 50 children symbolising the lives saved compared with last year that 1998 provided an even greater opportunity to reduce road deaths and road trauma.


    "The Government has put in place a broad range of initiatives to help people survive on the road network and produce a new generation of safer, more aware and better skilled drivers," he said.


    "Today marks the start of higher penalties for road traffic offenders, which is an initiative aimed at raising the level of safety awareness.


    "The new penalties reflect the dangers of high-risk behaviour on the roads, especially drink-driving, failing to wear a seatbelt and speeding."


    Mr Charlton said the new penalties were just part of a broad range of measures aimed at improving driver behaviour.


    "We introduced the K-10 schools-based program earlier this year to make road safety a formal part of the school curriculum," he said.


    "This program teaches road safety awareness from pre-primary to year 10 and places major emphasis on driver behaviour as well as basic road rules.


    "In October last year the State Government, through the Road Safety Council, circulated proposals for a graduated training and licensing system to be implemented progressively over three years.


    "Under the new scheme first - time drivers will be required to document up to 60 or so hours of driving under the supervision of an experienced motorist before gaining a licence.


    "They will be required to drive under a variety of road conditions including driving at night, driving on gravel roads, driving on wet roads and learning how to cope with the driver-fatigue factor.


    "We have received positive public feedback on our safety iniatives which will, in the coming year, be complemented by major advertising campaigns."


    Mr Charlton said the reduction in the number of road deaths in WA compared with last year demonstrated that people were taking more responsibility for their own safety and that driver attitudes appeared to be changing for the better.


    "To lose 197 people on our roads is still unacceptable and we must do more, especially when it comes to the young who are over-represented in the toll," he said.


    "Young people aged between 17 and 24 are at high risk and represent one-third of those killed or seriously injured and it is critical that a major focus be on preparing them properly to deal with the hazards of the road network."


    Mr Charlton said he was convinced the new public education and training strategies, combined with proper enforcement, would see WA ultimately lead the nation in road safety.


    He praised the efforts of the Road Safety Council, the Office of Road Safety, police, emergency service workers, doctors, hospital staff and welfare groups for their combined efforts in helping reduce the WA road toll in 1997.


    Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333