Bid to cut country roads risk

Fatalities on WA's regional roads are at a four-year high, with the number of single vehicles crashing after running off the road almost twice as high in the country as in the city.

The RAC analysis of recent fatalities shows 33 people have died on regional roads this year, seven more than at the same time last year and five more than in 2012.

"So far this year, 53 per cent of WA's road fatalities have occurred in regional areas, despite only 22 per cent of the population living there," RAC general manager (corporate affairs) Will Golsby said.

"We need to take a safe systems approach and build 'forgiving' roads, where if you make a mistake it doesn't cost you your life.

"Things like edge lining, rumble strips, wide shoulders, wire rope barriers and clear roadsides give drivers the opportunity to correct a mistake before it becomes fatal."

Today is the last day for motorists to nominate dangerous roads or intersections as part of the RAC's Risky Roads survey. Mr Golsby said 66 per cent of fatalities in the country last year were a result of single vehicles running off the road, compared with 36 per cent in the city.

In its annual assessment of road fatalities around the globe, the International Transport Forum has identified the Australian phenomenon of high fatality rates in rural areas.

The report said motorists in regional areas of Australia tended to drive at higher speeds, for longer and on lower-standard roads.

It also noted that the effective enforcement of speed limits, alcohol restrictions and seatbelt use was also more difficult in rural areas.

The assessment also said distracted driving was emerging as a major and potentially growing problem in Australia. "Mobile phone use is a particular concern, with self-report surveys consistently finding that about 60 per cent of drivers use a mobile phone while driving," it said.

Nominations for the Risky Roads campaign can be made at www.riskyroads.com.au .

The West Australian

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