NANCY SMITH AND RICCI-LEE SMITH
Even though Western Australian drivers are being urged to remember the double demerit long weekend ahead, the presence of an Australia-wide Fatality Free Friday campaign has been virtually forgotten.
The double demerit long weekend kicks off today, as does Fatality Free Friday – a campaign that aims for not a single road fatality for a day Australia-wide on May 30.
Since its introduction in 2007, Fatality Free Friday has continued across the eastern states with a significant presence in Queensland where the program started.
The annual campaign is operated by Queensland-based not-for-profit group the Australian Road Safety Foundation that has hosted 126 events across the eastern states throughout the month of May.
By comparison, Western Australia hosted only one event.
Donna Caley, spokeswoman for the Australian Road Safety Foundation sites a lack of funding as the reason for the lack of traction in WA.
“There is a lack of partnerships and sponsorships that can be acquired in WA,” she says.
“As a non-for profit organisation we need these investors to move forward.
“However we are already in our eighth year and there is always a constant plan to increase and grow.”
The lack of enthusiasm for the campaign in WA coincides with the Office of Road Safety reporting 67 deaths on the state’s roads so far this year.
WA Office of Road Safety spokesman John Doak says although the day is not widely known in the state, it is worthwhile.
“The campaign came out of Queensland where it is heavily endorsed and then in Perth it is the opposite,” he says.
“No-one knows about it.
“It is a cause concerning saving peoples lives. It is an important campaign that affects all of us whether we drive or not.”
Recently retired police senior constable Steve Tanner says the lack of campaign efforts were distressing.
“It is really important to let dangerous drivers know that WA isn’t okay with their reckless behaviour,” he says.
“A person who chooses to speed automatically puts others’ lives at risk.”
Mr Tanner had been on the beat for more than nine years and has seen the devastating results of careless driving first hand.
“I have been to many accident sites and the consequences of reckless driving do not change,” he says.
“I would walk away from the site of the collision angry at the drivers who deliberately speed or drink drive because I think about the impact it has on the victims family and it makes you value your life a whole lot more.”
Mr Tanner said that Fatality Free Friday should be heavily promoted in WA.
“I don’t understand why this campaign hasn’t gotten more publicity,” he says.
“If drivers are urged to pledge to drive safe and consciously think about what they are doing behind the wheel for one day a year, think about how many lives that could save nation-wide.”