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Changes Which Have Occurred in Australia Through Public Health Interventions to Improve Injury and Mortality Rates from Road Accidents Since the First Recorded Motor Vehicle Accident in 1924 and Why It Is Still a Public Health Issue Today in 2014

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Changes which have occurred in Australia through public health interventions to improve injury and mortality rates from road accidents since the first recorded motor vehicle accident in 1924 and why it is still a public health issue today in 2014
Changes which have occurred in Australia through public health interventions to improve injury and mortality rates from road accidents since the first recorded motor vehicle accident in 1924 and why it is still a public health issue today in 2014
Since the creation of the first modern automobile in 1886, injury and fatality rates were bound to occur from car accidents due to the increase of the car owner population on our roads. Australia began recording motor vehicle accidents as of 19241 and since then there have been over 180,0002 deaths from road accidents with the greater impact being on younger age groups and individuals in the most economically productive age groups.1 With the fatality rate of road accidents at an all time high in the 1970’s with a total of 3,798 deaths in 1970, the annual road toll has significantly decreased to a total of 1,193 in 2013.2 Once it was discovered that alcohol consumption, travelling at high speeds and the non-use of restraints were major causes of deaths and severe injuries in road accidents, serious action was taken which lead to the establishment of mandatory seat belts in 1973, a blood-alcohol limit of 0.05 in 1992 along with random breath testing in every state by 1988 and national maximum speed limit of 110km/h in 1992.1 Although these establishments are major factors in the decrease of road accidents, alcohol consumption, speeding and restraint non-use still remain major causes of road accidents today which can be seen in the table below.(3)

Although there has been a compelling decrease in mortality rates due to road accidents, they still cause up to 32,500 people to fall victim of serious injury each year which has a major impact not only on the victims but on their families and the community as the cost to society is an estimated $27 billion per year3, making this public health issue highly controversial.

In interest of reducing the devastating consequences of car accidents, countless organisations, campaigns as well as laws have been brought into existence many of which have shown to have an impact to drivers behaviour. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is a Victorian Government-owned organisation which promotes road safety as well as providing money and benefits to injured individuals of car accidents.4 The TAC promotes road safety through graphic and emotional advertisements as well as campaigns which have shown to be successful since the mortality rate due to car accidents has more than halved since 1989, only 3 years after the TAC was introduced.5 A highly known campaign by the TAC is the ‘Wipe off 5’ campaign which has the popular tagline of ‘Wipe of 5 or wipe out lives’. They used television, radio and print to convey their message that taking 5km/hour off your travel speed can reduce the distance it takes to stop which they discovered through research. The TAC are also major sponsors of the Collingwood Football Club and have used their influential players to increase the impact of their campaign to the Victorian community.6 Before the wipe off 5 campaign was introduced, Sweeny Research conducted surveys in March and June of 2001 which found that although 80% believed that speeding was a major cause of road accidents, many admitted to driving over the speed limit ‘some of the time’.6 In December 2001 another survey was conducted only one month after the campaign had been launched which found that fewer drivers admitted to driving over the speed limit ‘all the time’ and ‘half the time’6 ,which suggested the campaign had made an impact on the Victorian community driving behaviour.

Not only have organisations been involved in the promotion of road safety but neurologists and neurosurgeons were the leaders of some campaigns encouraging the compulsory use of helmets for motorcycle riders to reduce the risk of brain injury in car accidents. They were successful in 1973 when helmets became compulsory for motorcycle riders and in 1992 for bicycle riders in all states and territories.1 For neurologists and neurosurgeons to become involved in the promotion of road safety, shows the wide range of professions which are affected by the issue which helps explain why injury and mortality from road accidents is a major public health issue.

(3)
(3)
Although the annual mortality rate of road accidents has dropped by over 2,500, they still have a major impact on the Australian society, which is why it is still a public health issue today. The pie chart to the left shows the total amount of crash types which gives an indicator in which areas local, state and national governments as well as non-government organisations need to put more money and attention into and make the population more aware of to improve injury and mortality rates from road accidents.

Bibliography
Bibliography

(1-6)

1. Gruszin S HDGJ. Advocacy and action in public health. Lessons from Australia over the 20th century Canberra: Australian National Preventitive Health Agency. 2012:93-114.
2. Development AGDoIaR. Road Safety [Internet]. http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/index.aspx2014 [updated 13/2/2014].
3. Council AT. National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. 2011.
4. (TAC) TAC. About the TAC [Internet]. http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/about-the-tac2014.
5. (TAC) TAC. Statistics [Internet]. http://www.tac.vic.gov.au/road-safety/statistics2014.
6. (TAC) TAC. The TAC Wipe off 5 campaign. 2002.…...

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