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Promoting a more positive traffic safety culture in Australia: lessons learnt and future directions.
Adopting a traffic safety culture approach, this paper identifies and discusses the ongoing challenge of promoting the road safety message in Australia. It is widely acknowledged that mass media and public education initiatives have played a critical role in the significant positive changes witnessed in community attitudes to road safety in the last three to four decades. It could be argued that mass media and education have had a direct influence on behaviours and attitudes, as well as an indirect influence through signposting and awareness raising functions in conjunction with enforcement. Great achievements have been made in reducing fatalities on Australia’s roads; a concept which is well understood among the international road safety fraternity. How well these achievements are appreciated by the general Australian community however, is not clear. This paper explores the lessons that can be learnt from successes in attitudinal and behaviour change in regard to seatbelt use and drink driving in Australia. It also identifies and discusses key challenges associated with achieving further positive changes in community attitudes and behaviours, particularly in relation to behaviours that may not be perceived by the community as dangerous, such as speeding and mobile phone use while driving. Potential strategies for future mass media and public education campaigns to target these challenges are suggested, including ways of harnessing the power of contemporary traffic law enforcement techniques, such as point-to-point speed enforcement and in-vehicle technologies, to help spread the road safety message.