Elephant in the Wheatbelt trumpets road safety message


RAC staff Georgina Forde, Janaya Kershaw, Natalie Wong and Lauren Brophy spreading the safety message with the elephant.
RAC staff Georgina Forde, Janaya Kershaw, Natalie Wong and Lauren Brophy spreading the safety message with the elephant.

YOUNG drivers will learn how to stay safer on the road at a series of workshops designed to reduce fatalities in the regions.

The Elephant in the Wheatbelt tour returns next month to deliver the ‘drive safely’ messages.

RAC general manager, corporate affairs Will Golsby said the campaign was about preventing road deaths and serious injuries in the Wheatbelt.

“The community education team has delivered road safety messages to more than 450,000 students since 2002,” Mr Golsby said.

“Students are taught the importance of safe driving and being a responsible passenger, as well as the effects of alcohol, speed and reckless behaviour.”

The Elephant in the Wheatbelt is a life-sized sculpture made from wrecked cars, touring schools to encourage discussion about the region’s high road fatality rate.

“In 2015, the Wheatbelt road fatality rate was six times the Perth metropolitan rate, four times the state rate and well above nearby regions,” Mr Golsby said.

“The aim of the elephant is to generate conversation about this serious issue.”

He said last year people aged 17 to 19 accounted for 10 per cent of road deaths, despite only making up 4 per cent of the population.

“The statistics are devastating and reinforce the importance of educating young drivers,” Mr Golsby said.

“These students are our next generation of drivers and we want to ensure they have a good understanding of road safety and the consequences of bad decisions.”

RAC executive general manager Pat Walker said the Elephant in the Wheatbelt campaign had moved to the next phase of encouraging communities to share, support and implement road safety initiatives.

“We have already seen some inspiring road safety ambassadors emerging in the region, such as Karen Ducat, who creates painted corrugated iron elephant-shaped art with road safety messages on them,” he said.

Mr Walker said 65 per cent of Wheatbelt crashes could be attributed to deliberate driver choices, such as speed, drink-driving and inattention.