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Month of carnage on roads
The West Australian

A veteran road safety campaigner says he is constantly amazed by motorists who play Russian roulette on the roads by driving under the influence, speeding, falling asleep and failing to pay attention to their surroundings.

Grant Dorrington, who was the inaugural WA Road Safety Council chairman for 12 years before he retired from the role in 2009, spoke out yesterday as the State's road toll reached 26 this year - at least double year-to-date road tolls stretching back to 2009.

"Governments can only do so much," Mr Dorrington said. "They can legislate for this, they can make speed limits compulsory and so on, but at the end of the day when you jump in the car you should take the responsibility to drive by the rules of the road.

"If you don't . . . then seriously, the only way it can go is death or serious injury.

"Some people play Russian roulette on the road because they are drunk. They forget or they don't agree with it, they think that the speed limit is made for every other dope and not me.

"If I've said this once I reckon I've said it 52,000 times - if 25 people had been killed in a plane crash or shot in a school massacre like in America, the question you are asking me would have been a major public political issue that the public would have demanded a solution to immediately. But we get blase.

"How do you get through that? You can't have a cop on every road, you can't monitor with an ever- increasing population in the biggest State in the world . . . You just couldn't legislate to control it, so the responsibility comes back to you, me and every other driver."

The council's chairman Murray Lampard said an analysis of years of crash data showed many fatal and serious injury crashes were preventable and no single action would stop road trauma.

While it had been a tragic start to the year, Professor Lampard said it was important not to adopt any "knee-jerk reactions".

The focus needed to remain on making sure all speed and red light camera infringement notice revenue in the Road Trauma Trust Account was spent on evidence-based initiatives, he said.

Priorities under the Towards Zero road safety strategy include improving safety at urban intersections, sealed shoulders and installing audible edge lining and wire barriers on country roads to reduce run-off road crashes.

It also calls for more enforcement and education of speeding, drink and drug driving, using seatbelts and improved vehicle safety.

The RAC criticised the State Government in December for directing $10 million of Road Trauma Trust Account funds into the backroom processing of fines - against the advice of the Road Safety Council.

RAC head of advocacy Matt Brown reiterated the need for the Government to fully fund the Towards Zero road safety strategy.

"The appalling start to the year on our roads is a reminder that road safety is a problem that is not going to fix itself," he said.

"It needs leadership and we look to both political parties to spell out what actions they will be taking in the next term of government to do something about it."

But Mr Brown also said the toll was a wake-up call for people to slow down and focus.

"Unless as a community we wake up to ourselves, this carnage is just going to continue," Mr Brown said.

Premier Colin Barnett said the Government could not tackle the problem alone. Police would not comment and directed inquiries to the Office of Road Safety.