AUSTRALIA MUST review the nation's road system and trial more innovative road safety measures to reduce the road toll, an expert says.
Dr Jeremy Woolley, a senior researcher at the University of Adelaide's Centre for Automotive Safety Research, said this week that Australia's roads were built for much less capable cars and trucks and lower volumes of traffic - a legacy of the rapid motorisation that followed World War Two.
Dr Woolley said that right turn arrows should be standard at all lighted intersections, with crash barriers installed in the centre of high-risk roads to minimise the impact of drivers losing control of their vehicles.
"The current filter right turn at signals where motorists select a gap in traffic in the absence of a right turn arrow is an extremely hazardous manoeuvre," he says. "We have to justify the use of a right turn arrow, but it should be the norm."
Sweden and Norway, Dr Woolley said, are examples of nations that have cut their road toll by erecting crash barriers in the centre of roads.
"It does have implications for overtaking and also restricts access to properties, but if we are to make progress we need to adopt these measures because they have been trialled and proven successful."
According to Dr Woolley, society has taken on a car-centric outlook which is rarely challenged, with expectations of vehicles capable of speeds well above the posted limit. He believes that the key to reducing road injuries lies in challenging these expectations.
"We must challenge some of the things that the community takes for granted if we are to make further progress with improving road safety. Far more people are killed on our roads each year than die in wars, or are murdered, but we have become immune."