“Road Safety. It’s Everyone’s Responsibility.” The ACT Government’s focus on road safety.
The ACT program to improve road safety looks at three areas: vulnerable road users, speeding and sustainability. The dangers to vulnerable road users have been discussed many times on canberra.bike. It is no surprise that such threats are aggravated by driving in an unsafe manner, particularly with excessive speed.
Focus Area: Vulnerable Road Users
Vulnerable Road Users are generally those road users that have little or no protection in the event of a collision. The term includes pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists but also extends to other road users who have a specific characteristic that makes them vulnerable, for example, older drivers and children. In June 2014, the Standing Committee on Planning, Environment and Territory and Municipal Services presented a report to the Legislative Assembly on Vulnerable Road Users, which made 28 recommendations aimed at improving road safety for vulnerable road users. Since the report was tabled, significant reforms and initiatives have been implemented and rolled out across the ACT:
> A driver competency relating to vulnerable road users was introduced into the Road Rules Knowledge Test as well as into the assessment standards for suitability to obtain a provisional licence. …
> Introduced minimum passing distance requirements for drivers overtaking cyclists.
> Established a new optional vulnerable road user program for learner drivers which is focused on safely sharing the road with cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. ..
> Regulatory reforms to allow cyclists to ride across crossings and allow motorcycle lane filtering.
> Reduced speed limits in town centres.
> Expansion of the Share the Road campaign to include specific messaging to educate the community on their obligations as and around vulnerable road users.ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023. ACT Government 2020 page 12
Vulnerable road users remain overrepresented in road trauma in the ACT.
Canberra is home to an extensive network of walking and cycling routes that make it easier and safer for people to travel actively throughout our city. … As part of this Action Plan, the Government will continue to focus on education and awareness activities to improve the culture of ‘sharing the road’. It will also ensure that active travel is a key part of the planning and design of new suburbs, infill, and other infrastructure, to encourage sustainable transport and to improve safety for vulnerable road users.ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023. ACT Government 2020 page 13
Safety of children In the early years, a child’s main interaction with the road transport system is as vehicle occupants. … Children are also vulnerable as pedestrians in the early years due to a range of factors: they don’t have well developed perceptual skills, judgement and ability to understand or assess risk. Primary school aged children can be at risk of road trauma as vehicle occupants, pedestrians or while cycling. They are at risk because their peripheral vision, directional hearing and ability to judge speed is still developing, they are likely to be easily distracted and impulsive and their size makes them difficult to see. … What we will do
> Expand minimum passing signage on the road network to remind road users of the conditions in relevant speed zones for passing a cyclist.
> Design new areas of Canberra, and infill developments, to encourage and protect active travel users.
> Review and implement reforms to the licensing requirements for motorcycle riders, in particular, learner and provisional motorcycle riders, to reduce road trauma in this vulnerable road user group.
> Promote safe driving among older drivers and assist them to retain an independent licence where suitable and assist older drivers to identify alternative transport options when independent driving is no longer safe.ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023. ACT Government 2020 page 14
Focus Area: Speeding
there remains a portion of road users who do not use the roads in a responsible way and put others at unacceptable risk. Any level of speeding presents a road safety risk for the driver and other road users. Numerous studies have shown that perceived ‘low level’ speeding contributes to a significant percentage of road casualties and fatalities. Speeding at five kilometres an hour above the speed limit increases both the likelihood of a crash occurring, and the severity of driver and pedestrian injuries in a crash. For car occupants in a crash with an impact speed of 80 km/h, the likelihood of death is 20 times what it would have been at an impact speed of 30 km/h.
The relationship between speed and injury severity is particularly critical for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. For example, pedestrians have been shown to have a 90% chance of survival when struck by a car travelling at 30 km/h or below, but less than 50% chance of surviving an impact at 45 km/h. Pedestrians have almost no chance of surviving an impact at 80 km/hr.ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023. ACT Government 2020 page 15
When the speed of a vehicle is lowered, not only is the braking distance reduced, but the driver has more time to avert potential problems and impact speeds are reduced. In addition, pedestrians and other drivers also have more time to see and respond. … In making decisions about setting speed limits, the ACT Government will apply the Safe System approach outlined in the ACT Road Safety Strategy 2020-25 and the Movement and Place framework which recognises that road environments cater to a wide range of users and often have dual purposes.
The ACT Government has implemented 40 km/h precincts in all 18 ACT group centres. A review of existing boundaries in the 5 town centres has been completed. An expansion of all existing boundaries has been designed and will be implemented in stages. The Belconnen town centre expansion was completed in 2019. Other town centres will be progressed in 2020 with planned expansion in the City, also including parts of Braddon. It is important we continue to improve compliance with speed limits across the road network, in order to protect all roads users, in particular, our vulnerable road users. This will support active travel choices.
The Slower Streets initiative launched recently encourages drivers to slow down and was developed to assist community members who are walking and cycling and may need to be on the road. The Slower Streets initiative demonstrates how safe speeds can both improve road safety outcomes and contribute to the attractiveness of local roads for active forms of transport such as walking and cycling.
The ACT Government will continue to use interactive smiley face signs, as friendly reminders to motorists to watch their speed, slow down and drive safely. These signs have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing travel speeds to below the posted speed limit.ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023. ACT Government 2020 page 16
Action Area: Sustainable and Innovative Transport
The ACT Government through the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 is committed to encouraging the uptake of zero emission vehicles, encouraging active travel and supporting sustainable travel choices. The ACT Government is working towards transitioning to a zero emissions Government passenger vehicle fleet and a zero-emissions bus fleet. Public passenger vehicles in the ACT are increasingly electric or hybrid vehicles with the light rail network powered by renewable energy.
we (need) to make it easier, safer and more convenient for people to engage in activities such as walking and cycling. Increasing participation in cycling, walking and running will help achieve objectives in the areas of public health, sustainable transport and the environment. The ACT Government provides a Ride or Walk to School program which is a free initiative available to all schools to … encourage more walking and riding to and from school. Participating schools also have access to the Active Streets Program, an education campaign supported by infrastructure improvements to support active travel to and from school… Over 70 primary schools and 13 high schools currently participate in the ACT Ride or Walk to School Program, and students have access to resources that engage them on learning how to cycle safely.ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2020-2023. ACT Government 2020 page 19