Over the last decade annual road fatalities across Australia have decreased by 25%, according to the Road Deaths Australia Summary.
When population growth is taken into account, the drop increases to 35%.
In Western Australia in 2003, there was a total of 155 crashes across the state, resulting in 180 fatalities. By 2012, this had dropped to 88 crashes resulting in 96 fatalities.
Western Australia’s road toll for 2013 was the second lowest on record.
One of the largest drops in road user fatalities in Western Australia is in the 17 – 24 age bracket. According to the ABC News, experts believe this is a direct result of the licensing changes that have been bought in over the past decade.
In 2003, young drivers were only required to log 25 hours of supervised driving before applying for their provisional license. Now, they must complete a minimum of 50 supervised driving hours.
The 50 hours comprises a minimum of 25 supervised driving hours before the Practical Driving Assessment and a further minimum of 25 supervised driving hours over at least six months after the Practical Driving Assessment.
The introduction of the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) on 1st December 2010 has also seen further restrictions placed on young drivers, such as nighttime driving restrictions and passenger restrictions. The GLS has also seen novice drivers limited to just 4 demerit points when they first get their license, which increases to 8 points in their second year.
In 2003, provisional drivers were legally allowed to have a Blood Alcohol Content of up to 0.02% – this has now been reduced to 0.00%.
These changes have seen road user fatalities for 17 – 24 year old’s drop from 53 in 2003 to 35 in 2012 in Western Australia.
Other significant drops in Western Australia have been in the 0 – 16 age bracket, decreasing from 21 in 2003 to 9 in 2012.
Unfortunately there has been an increase in fatalities for older drivers, a statistic that is mirrored across Australia. This is due in part to the fact that as the Australian population ages, there are more people in this age bracket on the road.
Professor Max Cameron from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre in Melbourne says there has been a huge shift in Australia’s attitude to safe driving during the almost 50 years he has been involved in road safety (ABC News).
“We’ve seen enormous progress and I think there’s more progress to come,” he said.