Estimates Committee B (Cox)
Thursday 26 June 2008



CHAIR - Mr Finch, do you have a question?

Mr FINCH - This might cut across to DIER as well.  On 10.9, looking at some of the figures that are in the performance information, the total number of serious injury crashes, there is a decline in the number of serious injuries through 2006-07 -

Mr COX - Down 27 per cent.

Mr FINCH - I am thinking that there are probably two factors involved here.  There may be an improvement in driver behaviour but there is still a probably a fair way to go, and probably an improvement in vehicle safety like better brakes, better handling, maybe crash protection and so on.  I am just wondering, Minister, if you would care to comment on those two factors and are there are figures that separate the two which is causing more of an issue for road safety people?

Mr COX - I do not know that the cause would be given, Mr Finch.  I know there is a separation in the statistics as to what was what.  I suspect that there are three components, and the one you allude to about safer vehicles is probably right.  It is one that I think we should drive very hard and one I have supported very strongly before.  Considering we are an island, the majority of our new vehicles go back into second-hand vehicles in the State so if we can buy the best vehicles now, the ones with the electronic stability control and air bags, they are the ones that will go back to make the next generation safer.  I think part of that is happening now.

Are people more aware?  Possibly, a reduction in some of the speed zones I think has perhaps helped but I cannot put my finger on it and say there is one specific reason.  I will say the wire-rope barriers should get a discussion going.  I think they will be a definite reason.  To pick up one of my favourite little subjects, Vision Zero state that there will always be accidents and inevitably there will be accidents.  The purpose of Vision Zero is to reduce the damage caused when that accident happens and things like wire-rope barriers I think already are having an impact in that area.  So it is all of the above.  The good thing is that it is down.

Mr WING - Dual carriageways in the future or more of them.

Mr COX - History will show that that is not necessarily the solution and it will tell you that those that are now building the dual-lane highways are creating bigger and faster highways and people are killing themselves at a greater speed.  The trick is now to separate the highways or to separate the roads.

Mr WING - That is what I intended to convey with these dual highways so that you do not have vehicles coming from opposite directions, say, at 110 kilometres an hour each and if one moves 2 feet or 3 feet then you have a head-on collision and that is what is happening too frequently these days.

Mr COX - If you look at the stats in this State the number of head-on crashes is just beyond belief.  There was an instance about 12 months ago on the north-west coast and a motorbike hit the wire-rope barriers and there was criticism about the wire-rope barrier but the only thought I had at that stage was that had that vehicle travelling in excess of 200 kilometres an hour not hit a wire-rope barrier it would have looked pretty awful sitting in the back of someone's car with their children in the back seat.