Road safety is one of the main issues affecting human lives across the world. Death due related to road accidents have been on the rise for centuries and, despite various measures that have been taken, the problem persists. As reported by the World Health Organization (2004), the first ever road traffic death happened in 1896. The investigator was heard saying that such an incident will never happen again (RoadPeace 2004); little did they know that it was just the beginning of many incidences. In more than a century after the incident, over 1.2 million people are reported to have died on roads every single year, and over 50 million people are reported to have been injured (World Health Organization 2004). These incidences will continue to rise if mitigation strategies are not undertaken. Across the entire world, roads are filled with cars, trucks, buses and all sorts of motorcycles and vehicles.
Background and Significance of the Problem
Humans in many countries in the entire world want to revolutionize transport by making it faster and more efficient. There is an economic advantage when the transport of goods and people is faster and efficient, as well as social development. However, the advantages come with devastating harm unless safety is prioritized in our policies. The need for healthy living is on the rise and as a result, there are many pedestrians along the roads who are trying to run and keeping themselves physically fit apart from the pedestrians who are just walking to various destinations. Cyclists and pedestrians are both at risk. There have been frequent reports of crashes and death, and serious injuries are prevalent as reported by World Health Organization (2004). Without proper prevention strategies, these accidents will continue to rise in the years to come.
When shifting focus from the general worldview of a specific country, Australia is not left behind. The Victorian roads are among the accidents hot spots in Australia. According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (2017), the economic cost caused by road accidents in Australia has estimated at $27 billion annually without considering the devastating impact on the social wellbeing of the innocent Australians. Since 1925 when record keeping of the deaths and injuries started, over 189,000 incidences have been reported (Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 2017). This implies that the figure can be even double because some deaths cases are not reported. According to the report, however, there has been a decrease in the number of cases annually. The figure reduced from 3,798 in the year 1979 to only 1,296 in 2016 (Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development 2017), but the figure is still high and cannot be justified since even a single life matters. This calls for an investigation and research on the causes and what can be done to have zero road accidents deaths in Australia. The Victoria authorities have set rules and regulations governing road safety. Even with the strict applications of these rules, accidents are still prevalent in the Victorian roads as reported by Traffic Accident Commission (n.d.). The Traffic Accident Commission reports five key issues as the major issues on Victorian roads, and these include impairment, speed, tiredness, distraction and seatbelts (n.d.).
It is no doubt that road accidents are becoming another ‘cancer' in the Victorian roads. Despite the strategies put in place, there are still many cases of deaths reported. This calls for various professionals to come up with better strategies through investigating the loopholes in the current strategies. The implementation of effective strategies will, save not only people's lives but also improve the economy and social development of individuals in the Victoria state as well as the entire Australia. The research will impact many people’s lives and inspire other like-minded researchers to delve into this topic in a bid to reduce deaths due to road accidents.
Aims and Objectives
The primary aim of this study is to investigate the causes of deaths on Victorian roads in a bid to come up with better mitigation strategies to the same. The research objectives include:
- To justify the recruitment of more traffic police.
- To increase awareness on the causes of road accidents
- To educate people on the proper measures for preventing road accidents
- To persuade the authorities in the Victoria state to invest in more road signs.
Scope of the Study
The topic of road safety touches lives of everyone around the world. However, the study will focus on the Victoria state in Australia. Victoria State will be used as a case study to represent other population and areas facing the same problems.
Background/Review of Critical Literature
Current state of Road Accidents
Beside medical reasons like cancer and heart attack, road trauma is another cause of death in the state of Victoria today. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has termed it the ‘land transport accident’ and has been prevalent in the Victorian roads in the recent years as reported by Johnston and Butt (2016). A day hardly passes without a one person getting injured or even die due to road carnage. A grisly accident was reported in 2016 in a day called the Black Friday in April. It was a normal day like any other, the temperatures of the autumn season but little did the Australians know that six lives would be lost before the day ends (Johnston & Butt 2016). The most disturbing one that occurred that day was one involving a Commodore which collided with a truck. Three pedestrians who were crossing the Western Highway died on the spot when they came near the truck (Johnston & Butt 2016). A police assistant in Victoria was reported saying that such an accident was preventable since the weather was good, it was just recklessness of the drivers involved (Johnston & Butt 2016). The Victorian State Government has been campaigning for zero deaths on the roads, but its efforts are proving to be futile and dream shattered. Many lives are lost on a daily basis, leaving family members, the state, and the entire nation shocked. The Victorian Government has a dream of significantly reducing the death toll by 2020, but the journey has more challenges. The year 2016 was seen as a big discouragement towards the achievement of the goal as it was reported that before the year end, accidents had already risen by 15% (Johnston & Butt 2016). What is frustrating even more is that the toll has been falling for the last nine years but quickly rose in 2016 as reported by Roads Corporation (2016). In 2012, the Transport Accident Commission reported the number of deaths at 282 (Traffic Accident Commission. n.d). The number fell to 243 in 2013 as reported by Transport Accident Commission (n.d). However, in 2014, the graph started rising again. There was an increase in the number of deaths by five, which was followed by another increase by four in 2015 when 252 deaths were reported (Transport Accident Commission 2016). In 2016, the figure rose by 39 (Transport Accident Commission 2016). In 2016, it is reported that the highest number of motorcyclists died, a number that has not been recorded for decades. Among the deaths cases, drivers had the biggest number. The main problem is faced in the country roads in the state. The road reported to have caused problems in 2016 is the Bellarine Peninsula as reported by Johnston and Butt (2016). The crowded roads also pose a serious problem in the state of Victoria. Another worst accident in 2016 happened in Keilor East where a young couple met their death when the car they were driving in got off the road into a bridge after racing at high speed and caught fire (Johnston & Butt 2016). These are just some of the many incidences of deaths witnessed in the Victorian roads.
Causes of Road Accidents
The Transport Accident Commission states five issues as the main causes of deaths in the Victorian roads. The commission states five issues that cause road carnages in the Victorian roads and these include speed, distraction, impairment, seatbelts, and fatigue (Transport Accident Commission 2016). According to the Victorian police authority, people have not been conscious of speed, leading to many drivers driving beyond the speed limits set. The most common forms of distraction include drugs and alcohol. Several people have lost their lives while driving under the influence. Other forms of distraction are mobile phones, listening to music and children as well.
According to Raftery, Grigo, and Woolley (2011), speed has been an issue on Victorian roads. Despite the introduction of speed limiters and other technologies for maintaining a standard speed, motorists and drivers have ignored to observe these rules (Raftery, Grigo & Woolley). Road accidents have severe economic implications as identified by Connelly and Supangan (2006). Human and Social factors play a role in the increased cases of deaths on Victorian roads. Raftery, Grigo, and Woolley (2011) note that tiredness is a problem, especially in the heavy vehicle industry considering the fact that driving such vehicles is tiresome. There is a little effort that has been put in place to provide knowledge on fatigue management despite it being a serious concern. The use of drugs and stimulant by drivers is a point of concern. Throughout Australia, it is reported that heavy vehicle drivers are used to taking stimulant substances for the purpose of combating the fatigue effects (Raftery, Grigo & Woolley 2011). Boufous et al. (2012) note that crashes in rural areas of Victoria leads to more severe injury due to higher speeds and the use of greater levels of alcohol among the cyclists compared to urban areas. No research has been done to link the use of stimulant substances with the road accidents.
Gerrard, Greaves, and Ellison (2010) did research on cycling injuries. The research objective was to explore the number of incidences of injuries due to cycling and their characteristics in the state of Victoria. According to the research findings by Gerrard, Greaves, and Ellison (2010), the injuries have been increasing over the years which necessitated the need for mitigation strategies to prevent the occurrences of the cases. As identified by Sikic et al. (2009), many cyclists have been ignoring the requirement to put on helmets at all times while cycling. Legislation that was established in 1990 in the state of Victoria which made wearing helmets a compulsory practice for all cyclists led to a significant reduction in head injuries and associated fatalities (Sikic et al. 2009).
Brodie, Lyndall, & Elias (2009) conducted research to describe the nature, extent and the factors that contributed to 41 fatal crashes involving a heavy vehicle in the state of Victoria between 1999 and 2007. It was noted that a third of the drivers that were fatally injured were driving at a higher speed than the standard (Brodie, Lyndall, & Elias 2009). One out of seven drivers was using either cannabis or stimulant while driving (Brodie, Lyndall, & Elias 2009). In the twenty-five cases where the use of seatbelts was known, seventeen people were reported not to be using them (Brodie, Lyndal, & Elias 2009).
Strategies to Reduce Road Accidents
There are a number of researches that have proposed strategies to reduce road accidents in Victoria. The Council of Australian Transport has come up with a strategic goal dubbed ‘National Road Safety Strategy’ (Council 2011). According to Pilkington and Kinra (2005), speed cameras are an effective means of preventing road accidents that occur due to traffic collisions. The study suggests that effective speed cameras must be in place for directing drivers in a case where collisions are likely to occur. Another strategy as suggested by Young and Lenne (2010) is to engage drivers in the war against road accidents. The researchers argue that doctor engagement in the process of forming policies is crucial as it will help in getting the actual information about the roads in Victoria. Reporting incidences to the relevant authorities is crucial. Watson and Ozanne-Smith (2000) suggested 24-hour surveillance in the Victorian roads will help to combat the issues.
Various literature touch on the causes and strategies that can be used to reduce deaths toll. However, there is a paucity of literature that touches on the extent to which the issues cause death. The suitability of the strategies mentioned is not justified. The studies do not provide clear guidelines on how the strategies can be implemented. There is, therefore, a need to provide guidelines on how the proposed strategies can be executed in a bid to reduce crashes on Victorian roads. This is the gap that this research paper will seek to fill.
Considering the gap that exists in the current research, the project will seek to provide answers to the list of questions below:
- What are the main causes of accidents on Victorian roads?
- What are the current measures of preventing road accidents in Victoria State?
- What are the challenges in implementing the current measures?
- What are the most effective guidelines to ensure implementation of the developed strategies?
In the introduction, it has been described that road accidents are rampant on Victorian roads despite the many efforts that have been put. A deep understanding of the main causes of deaths in the Victorian road is paramount. An exploration of the current strategies in a bid to understand the loopholes is vital so that well-informed decisions can be made regarding the most effective remedies. While exploring the current strategies, a SWOT analysis of the strategies will be necessary to understand what needs to be improved and in developing clear guidelines on how the strategies can be effectively implemented.
According to Schepers et al. (2014, p.331), a conceptual framework can be defined as a depiction of an actual situation for a better understanding of real-world systems, and to allow facilitation of communication for the purpose of integrating knowledge across various disciplines. The achievement of the goals requires the utilization of models like the one proposed by van Wee, Annema, and Banister (2013) and that of Othman et al. (2009) called the three traffic pillars. The models have some form of similarities as they both recognize that accidents can be caused by a combination of variables that are interconnected. Since accidents usually occur due to combinations of mutually dependent variables, approaches for researching about road crashes should incorporate non-linear models as suggested by Toft et al. (2012).
The reason why people are vulnerable to traffic risks is due to the fact that they travel and that there are many dangers associated with travelling on roads. Despite the several policies and strategies in place, the Victorian government has no yet achieved a danger-free travel, and which actually might be a dream that will never come true if proper measures are not put in place. Most of the measures identified in the literature are linked travel behaviour, such as the distance travelled and speed. As such, the framework will incorporate both travel behaviour and exposure to risks in a similar group. The risk of injury and crash will be in one box to simplify the model. Although the model does not seem to have a chronological order, a particular order exists due to the fact that the travel decisions made before one engages in roads travel leads to an exposure to the risks when participating in traffic. The conceptual framework is as shown below.
In a bid to accomplish the project aims and objectives, both qualitative and quantitative research design will be applied. The research falls under the category of causal research as it seeks to understand the relationship between various variables. According to Zikmund et al. (2013), a causal research which is sometimes called explanatory is one that is done for the purpose of determining the nature and extent of the relationships between certain causes and effects. The study will focus on the analysis of road accidents in Victoria State and try to understand what exactly causes the toll to rise on an annual basis despite the various measures that have been put in place. While finding the extent of the cause-effect-relationship, the study will utilize qualitative and quantitative approach. A qualitative approach, according to Zikmund et al. (2013), is aimed at revealing the range of behaviour of the target audience which, in this case, is the Victorians. While using a qualitative approach, the study will seek to understand how Victorians perceive the problem under investigation which is the issues on Victorian roads. The results of the qualitative research design will be used to describe the Victorians’ behaviour and their understanding of the issues that are witnessed on Victorian roads. Quantitative research, on the other hand, refers to the utilization of statistical, Mathematical or computational methods in investigating an existing phenomena or issue (Babbie 2015). The primary aim of this approach is to develop and apply various statistical models that would help to understand the causes and effects of the topic under study. While employing quantitative approach, the study will make use of the various data available on road accidents so as to understand the prevalence of road accidents on Victorian roads.
The advantage of applying a mixed-method is that it will offset the weaknesses of applying a single approach. The quantitative approach does not give an explicit understanding of the context in which the information is gathered. A qualitative approach, on the other hand, is associated with biases since it relies on explanations and theories and does not support statistical analysis to prove a point. The utilization of mixed methods will, therefore, provide room for both exploration and analysis.
Methods of data Collection
Since a mixed-methods approach will be applied in the study, both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods will be used. On the qualitative aspect of data collection, various literature will be reviewed that were published from 2000 to date. Peer reviewed and journal articles will be utilized as well as information from various agencies in Australia such as the Transport Accident Commission and the VIC Road website. Various accounts of the police force will also be taken into account. On the quantitative approach of data collection, surveys will be conducted. The target group, being the Victorians, will be used. Questionnaires, interviews, and direct observations will be used. Series of data will be collected from the Transport Accident Commission statistics about the annual accidents reported from 2000 to date. The information obtained from the various statistics agencies will be used to analyse the current situation of deaths due to road accidents in Victoria.
The research will provide a deeper understanding of the issues on Victorian roads. Considering that road accidents is one of the major causes of fatalities across the world, a research that is aimed at providing mitigation strategies is important. The research project will help various authorities in Victoria State in dealing with the accidents that are currently prevalent.
Babbie, E.R., 2015. The practice of social research. Nelson Education.
Boufous, S., de Rome, L., Senserrick, T. and Ivers, R., 2012. Risk factors for severe injury in cyclists involved in traffic crashes in Victoria, Australia. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 49, pp.404-409.
Brodie, L., Lyndal, B. and Elias, I.J., 2009. Heavy vehicle driver fatalities: Learning's from fatal road crash investigations in Victoria. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 41(3), pp.557-564.
Connelly, L.B. and Supangan, R., 2006. The economic costs of road traffic crashes: Australia, states and territories. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 38(6), pp.1087-1093.
Council, A.T., 2011. National Road Safety Strategy, 2011-2020. ATSB.
Garrard, J., Greaves, S. and Ellison, A., 2010. Cycling injuries in Australia: Road safety's blind spot?. Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 21(3), p.37.
Johnston, C. & Butt, C. 2016. 2016- Victoria's grim road toll soars [Online]. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/victoria/2016--victorias-grim-road-toll-soars-20161230-gtk1bm.html
Othman, S., Thomson, R. and Lannér, G., 2009. Identifying critical road geometry parameters affecting crash rate and crash type. Annals of advances in automotive medicine, 53.
Pilkington, P. and Kinra, S., 2005. Effectiveness of speed cameras in preventing road traffic collisions and related casualties: systematic review. Bmj, 330(7487), pp.331-334.
Raftery, S.J., Grigo, J.A.L. and Woolley, J.E., 2011. Heavy vehicle road safety: Research scan. Centre for Automotive Safety Research.
RoadPeace. 2004. World’s first death. [Online]. Available at: https://www.roadpeace.org/articles/WorldFirstDeath.html
Roads Corporation. 2016. Crash statistics [Online].Available at: https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/safety-statistics/crash-statistics
Schepers, P., Hagenzieker, M., Methorst, R., Van Wee, B. and Wegman, F., 2014. A conceptual framework for road safety and mobility applied to cycling safety. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 62, pp.331-340.
Sikic, M., Mikocka-Walus, A.A., Gabbe, B.J., McDermott, F.T. and Cameron, P.A., 2009. Bicycling injuries and mortality in Victoria, 2001–2006. Med J Aust, 190(7), pp.353-6.
Toft, Y., Dell, G., Klockner, K.K. and Hutton, A., 2012. Models of causation: safety. Safety Institute of Australia, Tullamarine, Victoria.
Traffic Accident Commission. 2016. Statistics [Online]. Available at: https://www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/statistics
Traffic Accident Commission. n.d. What’s the biggest road safety issue in Victoria at the moment? [Online]. Available at: https://www.tac.vic.gov.au/about-the-tac/faq/whats-the-biggest-road-safety-issue-in-victoria-at-the-moment
Van Wee, B., Annema, J.A., & Banister, D., 2013. The Transport System and Transport Policy [Online]. Available at: https://courses.edx.org/asset-v1:[email protected]+block/NGI_week1_Readings_TheTransportSystemAndTransportPolicy.pdf
Watson, W.L. and Ozanne-Smith, J., 2000. Injury surveillance in Victoria, Australia: developing comprehensive injury incidence estimates. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 32(2), pp.277-286.
World Health Organization. 2004. Road safety: a public health issue [Online]. Available at: https://www.who.int/features/2004/road_safety/en/
Young, K.L. and Lenné, M.G., 2010. Driver engagement in distracting activities and the strategies used to minimise risk. Safety Science, 48(3), pp.326-332.
Zikmund, W.G., Babin, B.J., Carr, J.C. and Griffin, M., 2013. Business research methods. Cengage Learning.