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We're failing WA's kids on road safety education

With three young people seriously injured in just two weeks on WA’s roads, our children are fast becoming an endangered species when they’re out and about.

We’ve had eight child road fatalities in WA already this year, and we have the worst per capita road safety record of any State in Australia. Last year 16 kids died on WA roads, 18 the year before that; it’s an appalling situation, made worse by the realisation that behind every one of those statistics is a young lost life and grieving parents.

There are lots of non-government organisations in WA working very hard to educate kids about road safety, and these now include the new Constable Care Safety School in Maylands. Unfortunately these education providers aren’t receiving the funding support from government that’s needed if we’re going to fix this terrible problem.

For example, we built the $1.7M Safety School without any capital funding from the state government, and we are now operating it without any ongoing income from government sources, having to rely instead on our valued corporate partners and participating schools to pick up the costs.

Given that the state government generates over $100M per year in red light and speeding camera fines for the Road Trauma Trust Account, a fund specifically set up to finance road safety initiatives, it’s disappointing that such a practical road safety education strategy for our very vulnerable children isn’t receiving any funding.

The world-first Safety School uses augmented reality technology to overlay “virtual” experiences in pedestrian, road, rail, bus, bike and scooter safety, combined with fully functional roads, traffic lights, railway and pedestrian crossings, all coming together to give WA’s youngest travellers the opportunity to learn about risks in a safe and controlled environment.

Having opened just over a month ago, the Safety School has already experienced an overwhelming demand from primary schools, but we could be doing so much more if we had the funds to increase the number of children who can attend. We’re even exploring how this highly-engaging form of education can be extended to help children in regional and remote WA by developing the Safety’s School’s augmented reality road safety experience for use in regional classrooms, but it all costs money and we’re just one small charity.

I’m calling on government and the corporate sector to help us to reach more children. Road safety education, taught early and using evidence-informed, cutting-edge approaches like this, is the key to ensuring these tragic statistics can be reduced. Let’s start working together to try and stem the tide…

By David Gribble, Chief Executive Officer, Constable Care Child Safety Foundation

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