Road trauma in South Australia has reduced. From a peak of 382 deaths in 1974 to a total of 118 in 2010, there has been a significant improvement in road safety. However, over the four-year course of our last Road Safety Strategy (2006-2010) the reduction is showing signs of plateauing. There is now a real risk that the community will accept some level of trauma on our roads is inevitable and simply a byproduct of community road use. The truth is people continue to die on South Australian roads as a result of preventable behaviour.
The next phase of change in road safety is to stop dangerous driver behaviour. This can only be achieved through a change in road use culture targeted directly at dangerous drivers. Police have a major role to play in this approach and are required to take a leadership role to stop dangerous road use behaviour as well as to encourage the community to act to prevent such behaviours.
Dangerous drivers engage in behaviour which we know contributes to serious road crashes. Behaviours such as exceeding speed limits, drink and drug driving, non-use of restraints, in-vehicle distraction, driving whilst fatigued and driving whilst unlicensed or disqualified. There are also those drivers who are repeat offenders for this type of dangerous driving behaviour.
While not all crashes are as a result of these behaviours, we know dangerous drivers are clearly overrepresented in serious road trauma and unnecessarily put other South Australian road users at risk.
The reality is that if people obeyed speed limits, didn't drink or take drugs and drive, wore a seat belt and were not distracted when driving - the road toll would significantly reduce.
To make a real and lasting impact on death and serious injury on our roads, our efforts must be focused towards stopping dangerous driving behaviour and taking dangerous drivers from our roads. For the safety of the entire community - stopping dangerous driving is everyone's responsibility.
Commissioner of Police