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WA wakes up  to  drink-driving risks
Getting the message: Drink-driving deaths are down. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

The number of drink-driving fatalities on WA roads last year was down almost 50 per cent on the five-year average, which Police Minister Liza Harvey says is a sign the community is waking up to the risks.

WA no longer has the country's worst road toll after last year recording its lowest fatality rate since records began in 1962.

The minister welcomed the preliminary road statistics, to be released today, but warned against complacency after four people were killed on WA roads this week.

WA's road trauma rate has fallen 30 per cent from 9.4 fatalities per 100,000 in 2008 to 6.4 per 100,000 last year. Last year's road toll of 162 was 20 fewer than in 2012.

"While this is an outstanding achievement, it is difficult to be pleased with a road toll where 162 people died," Ms Harvey wrote in an opinion piece in today's The West Australian.

One of the causal factors that had a big fall was alcohol, with the drink-driving road toll down 48 per cent on the five-year average.

But Ms Harvey said 30 drink-driving deaths in one year was still unacceptable.

She applauded the bravery of Merriwa couple Stacy and Justin Dunbar, who fronted The West Australian's Pledge For Nate campaign in memory of their eight-month-old son who was killed by a drink-driver last year.

"There is no doubt the Pledge For Nate campaign had an effect on driver behaviour over the Christmas period," Ms Harvey said.

Mrs Dunbar, who is due to give birth in three weeks, said she was often stopped in the street by strangers who had put their names to the campaign.

"It's so nice to know that we are getting some positive news from such a horrible tragedy . . . it's fantastic to think our little boy has made a difference," she said.

"But until we get a zero road toll, you can't rest on your laurels."

Fatalities caused by speed, fatigue and inattention were also down compared with the five-year average, but Ms Harvey said an 11 per cent increase in the number of deaths in Perth involving people not wearing a seatbelt was "unbelievable".

She was also concerned about an increase in pedestrian deaths from 9 per cent to 19 per cent in five years.

The preliminary figures could change as police carry out further analysis, with 57 per cent of fatalities found not to have alcohol, speed, fatigue or inattention as a contributing factor.

Nineteen people have been killed on WA roads so far this year compared with 32 deaths at the same time last year. The fall in road fatalities last year was solely in regional areas.