POWERFUL: RAA Senior Manager Safety & Infrastructure Charles Mountain with the chairs showing the people who have died on our roads over the past ten years. PHOTO: Sophie Conlon

A sea of ​​120 empty chairs were placed in the Warland Preserve in the heart of Victor Harbor.

They were not put in place for an event or a celebration; rather empty to portray a powerful image; each chair represented a life lost on our area roads over the past 10 years.

The display of empty seats was designed to evoke a visual representation of what is missing; 120 lives lost on our roads, 120 families without loved ones.

The RAA – in support of the annual National Road Safety Week initiative from May 16-22 – traveled to regional South Australia this week to help spread the message about the importance of looking out for our roads.

RAA Senior Director of Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain came to Victor Harbor on Wednesday, May 18 and said the RAA wants to recognize the people who have sadly lost their lives on our roads.

It’s not just numbers – it’s not statistics – it’s people who lost their lives.

RAA Senior Manager Security and Infrastructure Charles Mountain

“Whenever we get behind the wheel – or when we cycle, or even when we’re pedestrians – in places like this, we need to think about what we’re doing to keep ourselves and other people on the road safe. the road. ,” he said.

Mr Mountain said there were a number of issues which specifically affected regional road users.

“The main ones are fatigue and distraction,” he said.

“In many cases, the people who drive these roads have driven them so many times already that there can be a tendency to become somewhat complacent.

RAA traffic engineer Matthew Vertudaches said the number of lives lost on South Australia’s regional roads rose to 71 last year – from 64 in 2020 – despite the best efforts of road safety advocates , and the RAA was in the regions to help spread a safety message.

“To me it’s touching…a number on a page doesn’t do it justice, you can be a little desensitized to statistics…it reinforces the message that we are quite vulnerable as human beings,” did he declare.

The RAA reports that the number of people seriously injured on regional roads has also risen significantly, from 310 to 343 over the same period, leaving many with life-altering physical and mental trauma.

Mr Mountain said the exhibit highlighted the tragic extent of lives lost in the state over the past decade.

“RAA hopes these symbols will inspire people to reflect on the physical and emotional toll of traffic injuries on victims, their friends and families, and the wider community,” he said.

He said it was even harder to realize that the chairs only represented lives that had been lost in the Collines Fleurieu local service area.

“That’s a lot of lives lost and a lot of serious injuries over this 10-year period just for the people who travel to or visit this area,” he said.

“Unfortunately, South African police figures show that people living in regional and remote areas are overrepresented in lives lost, which is one of the reasons why this year we are focusing on road users. vulnerable.”

Mr Mountain said nearly two-thirds (638) of the total number of regional road fatalities over the past decade have occurred on regional roads.

  • South African police figures show that there have been a total of 973 fatalities on all South African regional and metropolitan roads in the ten years between 2012 and 2021. During the same period, 7,619 people have were seriously injured.
  • : Young drivers and bikers (aged 16-24) accounted for 21% of all lives lost on South African roads, despite making up just 11% of the population
  • Nearly two-thirds (638) of total fatalities occurred on regional roads
  • Pedestrians accounted for one in seven lives lost
  • Cyclists accounted for one in 20 deaths and one in 10 serious injuries
  • 41 children under the age of 15 lost their lives and 339 others were seriously injured
LOST: RAA Senior Manager Safety & Infrastructure Charles Mountain was lost in the sea of ​​chairs, which represented those who have died on the roads in our regions over the past decade.  PHOTO: Sophie Conlon

LOST: RAA Senior Manager Safety & Infrastructure Charles Mountain was lost in the sea of ​​chairs, which represented those who have died on the roads in our regions over the past decade. PHOTO: Sophie Conlon

National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative created by the group Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) to honor those who have lost their lives or been injured on Australian roads.

The superintendent in charge of South Africa’s traffic services branch, Bob Gray, said that of all fatal collisions in South Australia, 75% occurred on regional roads.

“Unfortunately, there is a misconception among some drivers that these deaths represent metropolitan drivers or ‘tourists,'” he said.

“In fact, two out of three drivers who die on regional roads live within 20 kilometers of the scene of the accident.

“SAPOL recently produced an advertising campaign focusing on the vulnerability of regional drivers and the catastrophic consequences of inattention, drink-driving, speeding and fatigued driving.

“No one is safe from the dangers of driving on regional roads and road safety is everyone’s business.”

Below is a table showing the number of lives lost in each South Africa Regional Police local service area over the past decade:

  • Fleurieu Hills 120
  • Barouse 88
  • West Eyre 64
  • Far North 52
  • Limestone Coast 82
  • Murray Mallee 107
  • Yorke Mid North 125

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