Regional and remote areas
While many of the strategies identified will benefit all road users in South Australia, programs and initiatives to improve road safety outcomes will be weighted towards and tailored for regional and remote South Australia due to the disparity in road safety outcomes between metropolitan Adelaide and the rest of the State.
Regional and remote road users are twice as likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads as those in metropolitan Adelaide. Single vehicle run-off-road crashes account for 58% off all regional crashes where a life is lost or serious injury occurs, and a further 10% are head-on collisions. 71% of all regional and remote crashes where a life is lost or serious injury occurs are on a road with a speed limit of 100 or 110 km/h.
People from regional and remote areas involved in serious injury crashes tend to have poorer outcomes because treatment, care and support is more challenging in regional and remote areas.
Network safety plan
There are a number of tools that road authorities can use to assess the safety of their regional and remote road networks. Two of the commonly used ones are AusRAP star ratings and ANRAM Risk Scores.
AusRAP star ratings score sections of the road to a standard considering speed, volume, road and roadside attributes. It provides a measure of the level of safety “built-in” to the road for users, and are used for communicating or telling the story of the road network.
ANRAM is used for predicting severe crash risk based on the relative safety performance of the road infrastructure, traffic speed, volume and potential for vehicle conflicts. It is also used to identify the road sections with the highest potential risk of severe crashes (supported by lives lost and serious injury crash data). It informs investment planning as it identifies relative risk of sections of road and the most appropriate treatments.
Data and information from analysis based on star ratings, stereotypes or crash risks can be used to inform the development of a Network Safety Plan. A Network Safety Plan is a strategic plan used to prioritise safety infrastructure investment where it will have the most impact. They comprise analysis of current risks across the network, mapping the network to identify gaps and desired outcomes and determination of appropriate treatment and prioritisation of treatment across the network. Adopting a network wide approach to road design facilitates the self-explaining roads principle, providing for more consistent corridors and optimising investment to reduce crash risk for all road users.
Infrastructure safety treatments can provide safety benefits for all road users. Network-wide we will plan for and invest in safer road infrastructure, with additional focus on regional and remote areas. We will continue to target run-off-road and head-on crashes and implement shoulder sealing, roadside hazard removal and road side safety barriers, wide centreline treatments and in some situations median barriers to address high risk and high crash history locations. This investment needs to be informed by a range of considerations, including:
- Investing where the greatest potential for trauma and risk reductions are possible;
- Using the most effective treatments to address key crash types; and
- Addressing current injury trends, as well as maintaining a long-term vision of zero harm across our network.
Infrastructure treatments such as shoulder and apron sealing, and maintaining roads in regional and remote areas, together with improved delineation and road signage to improve the network in line with the Safe System approach, helps to reduce road trauma for all vehicle occupants. Continuing work to build community understanding about the risk factors related to speeding and travelling at inappropriate speeds is a priority, but also one that will take time to reach its full potential. Innovation and experimentation will be a key enabler for rural and regional road safety. We have to consider new, cost effective countermeasures.
Increasing the perceived risk of detection (i.e. general deterrence) is a key strategy to improve road user behaviour, coupled with coordinated road safety education and public awareness campaigns targeted to the specific needs of the region.
Drink and drug driving is of concern in regional South Australia. In 58% of crashes that occurred in regional South Australia that resulted in drivers and riders who lost their life or were seriously injured the driver or rider had an illegal BAC. The majority (81%) of drink and (76%) drug drivers and riders killed in regional South Australia also lived in regional South Australia.
It is estimated that fatigue plays a role in 20-30% of crashes resulting in a life lost or serious injury nationally.28 We have heard from the broader community and stakeholders that there is a need for a greater number of rest stops across regional and remote areas suitable for both light and heavy vehicles. These rest areas are located to supplement other rest opportunities made available by commercial operations and by local councils within townships. Road network studies are undertaken to identify appropriate rest opportunities (at regular spacing) to enable heavy vehicle drivers’ compliance with the regulations as per the heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws. Sealed shoulders, ATLM and roadside barriers can also reduce the likelihood and severity of fatigue-related serious crashes. Through community consultation to inform the development of the Strategy, many people provided feedback on the need to make walking and cycling safer and easier in regional and remote areas. Off-road paths and safe road crossings are ways to help create a safer environment for people who walk or cycle.
There are limited alternative travel or public transport options in many regional and remote areas, and often longer travel distances between services and homes, leading to increased vehicle use.29
Limited public transport could also encourage people to drive when unlicensed or disqualified. It may also be a contributing factor to people choosing to drive under the influence.
Reducing barriers, such as lack of ride share or community transport options and enabling safe alternative travel options in regional and remote areas of need, where possible would help to address this.
Such travel options may also increase the economic and social opportunities for people in remote areas. To increase ownership of outcomes, community-led programs are needed that meet the needs of the community involved.
Key strategies aimed at improving road safety in regional and remote South Australia
- Evidence-based analysis of relevant data and information will be used to plan and prioritise proposed investments in the most effective road safety treatments that reduce the risk to road users, and this will be set out in a network safety plan for corridors and/or regions;
- Improve the star rating of our road network, with a particular focus on high speed, high volume roads;
- Changing vehicle sizes and requirements will be considered when upgrading roads and related infrastructure (including overtaking lanes and rest stops) in regional and remote areas;
- Innovation and experimentation will be key enablers for rural and regional road safety. We have to consider new cost effective road safety infrastructure treatments that are appropriate for South Australian roads;
- Safer walking and cycling infrastructure in regional and remote areas;
- Undertake public awareness campaigns targeted to regional and remote road users on relevant road safety issues, coordinated with enforcement to increase the perceived risk of detection. Encourage community-led programs and ownership of outcomes;
- Enable safe alternative transport options in regional and remote areas of need where possible; and
- Consider policies and initiatives that will increase the uptake of safer vehicles in regional and remote areas.