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New initiative targets road injury impact

Media release

The new Healthy Roads initiative based at Curtin University aims to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on the road.

Funded by the Office of Road Safety through the Road Trauma Trust Fund, Healthy Roads will focus on encouraging health organisations to be actively involved in advocating for road safety.

The Healthy Roads initiative will be guided by an Advisory Committee based at Curtin’s Public Health Advocacy Institute and includes representatives from leading health organisations.

The Committee will be chaired by Professor Geoff Dobb, Director of Critical Care and Head of Intensive Care at Royal Perth Hospital.

Professor of Health Policy Mike Daube from Curtin’s Public Health Advocacy Institute said Professor Dobb was a welcome addition to the Healthy Roads initiative.

“We are delighted that Professor Dobb has accepted the role as Chair of the Healthy Roads Advisory Committee,” he said.

“He is a highly respected former Australian Medical Association President, and is Director of Critical Care and Head of Intensive Care at Royal Perth Hospital, so is well placed to guide the Healthy Roads initiative.”

Professor Dobb said that it was important for the public to be aware of the many health consequences of road crashes, including long-term injury.

“In 2009, the road toll in WA was 193 and every year nearly 3,000 people are admitted to hospital with serious injuries following road crashes,” he said.

“Healthy Roads will have a particular focus on the consequences of road injury for individuals, families and the community. Too many people do not understand how devastating the impact of long-term injury can be on individuals, families and the community.

“We believe that by communicating this message, on the basis of their own experience, health organisations can play an important role in reducing road injuries and deaths in WA.”

Professor Dobb believes road safety had traditionally been viewed as the responsibility of the police and transport sectors, but health professionals have a vital role to play in road traffic injury prevention.

“The health sector and health organisations have a strong record in prevention, and it is important that they see road safety as an issue for them,” he said.

“They can and should be active in policy development, advocacy, research, injury surveillance, services, prevention and control, and evaluation. The Healthy Roads initiative will establish partnerships across a range of health organisations to develop and deliver advocacy in support of road safety.”

The Healthy Roads initiative has three key focus areas:

  • support for road safety advocacy among public health leaders, organisations and individuals so that key messages are delivered to the community;
  • sharing information related to road safety advocacy among public health leaders, organisations and individuals, as well as across all levels of government and the community; and
  • establishing partnerships across a range of public health organisations to increase understanding of road safety.

The Healthy Roads initiative will be based at Curtin’s Shenton Park Health Campus.

The Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Geoff Dobb, also includes representatives from The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine; St John Ambulance Association of WA; Headwest WA; Public Health Association; Royal College of Surgeons; Paraplegic Benefit Fund; RAC WA; the Office of Road Safety; and Curtin Professor of Health Policy, Mike Daube.

Key areas of advocacy for the Healthy Roads initiative will include

  • increasing restraint use for both adults and children
  • speeding
  • distraction (including use of mobile phones)
  • fatigue
  • funding both for improved roads and education campaigns
  • drink (including use of alcohol interlock systems) and drug driving, and
  • infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

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