Blessing of the Roads: A message for motorists

The Shire of Esperance Roadwise Committee have hosted the annual Blessing of the Roads event at the Jetty Headland on Thursday, April 11, calling on motorists to stay safe in the lead up to Easter.

The statewide initiative has been running since 1999, campaigning to achieve zero deaths and serious injuries from road crashes throughout WA.

With 24 of the 43 road fatalities this year having occurred in regional WA, Esperance Police senior sergeant Steve Thompson said the message was one particularly important for regional drivers.

"As police, we often work alongside other agencies in trying to drive the road safety message - including the Shire of Esperance's Roadwise Committee," he said.

"We also work with the other agencies that attend these serious incidents like St John Ambulance and the fire service.

"We shouldn't be willing to accept that anyone could be killed or injured on our roads.

"Attending these incidents can be very traumatic for our officers as well, and certainly more so for the families affected, and we don't want to be passing the bad news to anyone.

"Last year, we saw six deaths on roads in the Goldfields-Esperance district... that's six too many.

"I suppose we're calling on the community to make our job a little easier so that we can focus our attention on other things.

"We should all be driving responsibly, obeying the road rules, wearing our seatbelts and not driving under the influence.

"The event also serves as a time to sit back, reflect and remember those that have been killed or injured in these incidents."

With a lot of people travelling great distances to see family and friends over the busy Easter period, Sergeant Thompson said it was an important time to reiterate the message of road safety.

Sergeant Thompson pleaded with motorists to drive responsibly, never ever drive under the influence, wear seatbelts and not to drive tired.

"When we look at some of the statistics from 2018, about 40 per cent of serious and fatal crashes were single vehicle roll offs and more than 60 per cent of those crashes are in the 110 km/h speed zones," he said.

"That is particularly relevant for our region where we have those and people driving for extended periods of time.

"Fatigue is a big thing as well - people should stop, take a break and stay safe.

"We'll be out there right across the school holidays, particularly over the Easter weekend.

"We'll be stopping cars, we'll be conducting breath tests and drug swipes, we'll be doing speed checks, and monitoring people's driving behaviour.

"We're hoping we can have an injury free start to the year."

Committee chairperson and councillor Steve McMullen opened the event, appealing to all for assistance in helping to keep the roads safe.

"Easter is a time to rejoice and enjoy the warmth and closeness of friends and family, it's a time for celebration, giving and sharing, laughing and spending time with those we love," he said.

"Easter is also one of the peak holiday periods where we travel near and far and it's important to take time to promote the issue of road safety and, more importantly, the impact that this can have on families, friends and the wider community.

"We all appeal for your assistance in helping to keep our roads safe, encouraging people to slow down and enjoy the ride.

"We're encouraging the community to stick to the speed limits and reduce the chance of road trauma.

"By challenging road accidents, we can better generate support and involvement in the local road safety initiatives that contribute to the prevention of road trauma and the long term vision of zero fatalities or serious injuries on our roads.

"Always buckle up, drive to the conditions, slow down, ignore your phone and take a break if you're feeling tired.

"I appeal to you all to be responsible when travelling on the road and to spread the message to your friends, family and colleagues. Every life is valuable."

Mr McMullen also extended thanks to the town's emergency services personnel and volunteers and said the community were very grateful.

The event concluded with a prayer for the care and protection of all road users from Reverend Rob Dummermuth.