Let’s talk about the ‘elephant in the room’ – it could save your life

14 May, 2023

This National Road Safety Week (NRSW) RAA is launching a week-long campaign in the Adelaide CBD and South Australia’s regions, to raise awareness of the Fatal 5 and get people talking about the ‘elephant in the room’.

Throughout the week, South Australians will see five-metre tall, colourful, inflatable elephants at prominent locations around the state – each representing one of the Fatal 5.

The ‘Fatal 5’ causes of road trauma in South Australia are:

  • Distraction (including mobile phones)
  • Speed
  • Dangerous road users
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

RAA’s Senior Manager of Road Safety Charles Mountain said he hoped the eye-catching elephants would spark conversations about safer driving.

“We know that to influence change, we must be brave enough to talk about it – RAA wants people to address the ‘elephant in the room’,” Mr Mountain said.

“Everyone knows someone who might check their phone while driving, creep over the speed limit or be guilty of one of the Fatal 5.

“We want people to understand that any of these behaviours dramatically increase the risk of a crash.

“Ensuring that everyone in the vehicle is properly secured with a seatbelt or child restraint can be the difference between walking away from a crash and sustaining serious injuries or loss of life. 

“Crash statistics show inattention is a contributing factor in at least a third of fatal or serious injury crashes, and excessive speed in more than a quarter.

“If we can work to change these behaviours, we can significantly reduce the number of families being torn apart by road crashes each year.

“With the 2023 road toll spiralling, it’s time to ask ourselves if we’ve been complacent when sharing the road with others lately, and to realise just how the tragic consequences of this behaviour can be.

“That’s the elephant in the room.”

So far 49 people have lost their lives on our roads this year compared to 28 at the same time in 2022. Another 345 have also lost their lives as they once knew it, suffering serious injuries due to crashes throughout 2023.

The five elephants are being placed in Elder Park this morning, and will move around to other locations on different days throughout this week, including Victor Harbor, Clare, the Barossa and Yorke Peninsula.

Minister for Police Joe Szakacs said a week dedicated to road safety will remind people of common mistakes or poor decisions they make when driving and how they can fix them.

“This week-long campaign to promote National Road Safety Week will act as a timely reminder for motorists to limit distractions when driving and spark conversations to keep themselves and their loved ones safe on our roads,” Minister Szakacs said.

“The statistics that show inattention and distraction as prominent causes of road accidents don’t lie.

“Use this week and the prominent road safety campaigning around the CBD and regions to check your speed, put on your seatbelt, watch out for other road users, limit distractions and plan another way home if you’re drinking.”

South Australia Police Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrott said everyone getting in a car to begin a journey intends to arrive alive but bad decisions can lead to preventable deaths or injuries.

“If you make a bad decision on the road, you get distracted, you choose to drive after drinking or taking drugs, you creep over the speed limit or deliberately choose to blatantly speed, you think your invincible and don’t need a seatbelt or you choose to drive dangerously and take risks on the road, the fact is you are very likely to be our next death on our road,” Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrott said.

“If you continually make these choices, eventually something will go wrong.”