Hearts go out to victims of road trauma – Gone but not forgotten

15 May, 2022

Tragically, the number of lives lost on South Australian roads increased to 99 last year – up from 93 in 2020 – despite the best efforts of road safety advocates.

The number of people seriously injured also grew significantly from 759 to 883 in the same period, leaving many with life changing physical and mental trauma.

As part of this year’s National Road Safety Week, which begins today, RAA is focusing on vulnerable road users in an effort to reduce the carnage on South Australian streets.

Heart symbols representing those vulnerable road users – children, pedestrians, cyclists, young drivers and riders and regional residents – who lost their lives in the past decade have been placed at Elder Park.

RAA Senior Manager Infrastructure and Road Safety Charles Mountain said the display will highlight the tragic extent of lives lost across the state in the past decade.

“RAA hopes these symbols – printed with the message Gone but not forgotten – will make people reflect on the physical as well as emotional toll of road trauma on victims, their friends and families and the broader community,’’ he said.

“Sadly, state government figures show young drivers and riders along with people living in regional and remote areas are over-represented in lives lost, which is one of the reasons why this year we are focusing on vulnerable road users.’’

This week RAA will also be placing empty chairs at its shops in Mount Gambier, Murray Bridge, Victor Harbour, Whyalla, and Renmark to represent lives lost in these regions during the past decade, as well as running a social media road safety campaign with images and video.

National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative created by the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group to honour those who have lost their lives or have been injured on Australia’s roads.

State Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, the Hon Joe Szakacs and SA Police Superintendent Bob Gray will join Mr Mountain at a media conference from midday today at Elder Park to reinforce the road safety message. 

Mr Szakacs said: “National Road Safety Week is an important time to remember the lives lost, those people seriously injured on our roads, the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it.

“Tragically, over the past five years (2017-2021), 486 lives were lost on South Australian roads while 3,500 people sustained serious injuries.

“Public education and community engagement through events including National Road Safety Week are critical to reducing lives lost on our roads, improving road user behaviour and working towards cultural change.

“The focus of South Australia Police and the Department for Infrastructure and Transport on improving road safety is vital in regional and remote areas. Regional communities are, sadly, overrepresented in road safety statistics.

“It’s important to acknowledge the RAA’s ongoing and exceptional work within the South Australian community, in schools and with other like-minded organisations, to deliver a range of education programs that aim to improve road safety in our state.”

Superintendent Bob Gray, Officer in Charge SAPOL Traffic Services Branch said: “There has been a 30 per cent reduction in both lives lost and serious injury crashes on South Australian roads this year, compared to the same time in 2021.

“South Australia Police will continue to tirelessly educate drivers and enforce lifesaving road rules to ensure this downward trend continues. Every life lost on the road is one too many.”

Note to editors

State government figures show there was a total 973 lives lost on SA roads in the ten years between 2012 and 2021. In the same period there were 7,619 people seriously injured.

Figures regarding vulnerable road users during the same time period also show:

Young drivers and riders (aged 16-24) represent 21 per cent of all lives lost on SA roads, despite them making up only 11% of the population

Almost two-thirds (638) of total fatalities occurred on regional roads

Pedestrians represented one in seven lives lost

Cyclists represented one in 20 fatalities and one in 10 serious injuries

41 children aged under 15 lost their lives and another 339 were seriously injured