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Road safety message worth repeating

Congested traffic

After reaching record lows in COVID-lockdowns the road toll is again on the rise. Last year 1266 people lost their lives on Australian roads. That’s 7.3% more than in 2023 and 71 more deaths than 2019, before lockdowns.

May is the month when both the UN and Australia raise awareness around road safety and a few years ago, we had the opportunity to help spread the road safety message through our work editing and writing for the book From Roadside to Recovery. 

Its pages tell the personal stories of the key people involved in the evolution and operation of the Victorian State Trauma System. This system is a world-renowned model that has reduced road deaths and helped ensure survivors receive the best possible care. 

Our writers put together nine case studies, interviewing some of the key players in developing Victoria’s trauma system. Among them was the late former premier John Cain who legislated for the introduction of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and the heads of trauma units and emergency response teams working on the front line every day.

We also learned about the drive of the late Harry Gordon the newspaper editor who kicked-off the campaign for compulsory seatbelts with his ‘War on 1034’. (This was via an interview with Harry’s long-time friend Bill Shannon.) 

Front cover of the book From Roadside to Recovery which features a newspaper clipping
'From Roadside to Recovery' has been published by Monash University Publishing.

In 1969, 1034 wasn’t the national road toll; it was the number of lives lost in Victoria alone. By comparison, in 2023, the Victorian road toll was 296 lives lost; rising from a low of 87 lives lost in 2021.

For another case study we interviewed the survivor of a serious traffic accident about the impact of their accident and how support from the TAC helped in their recovery.

We were privileged to work with a team from Monash University led by trauma surgeon and now Dean of the ANU College of Health and Medicine Professor Russell Gruen and behaviour change expert Professor Peter Bragge to spread the word. 

While we’ve come a long way since 1969, current trends tell us the road safety message needs repeating. 

From Roadside to Recovery is available from Monash University Publishing

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