Aboriginal road users
Aboriginal people make up 1.7% of the State’s population but on average account for 4.6% of the total number of South Australian residents in road crashes in Australia, indicating an estimated fatality rate three times greater than for non-Aboriginal people. Significant numbers of Aboriginal crash casualties are vehicle passengers, and factors for this may include: failure to wear seatbelts, travelling in the rear of utilities or trucks and in some instances, over-crowding of vehicles. Also, almost as many Aboriginal pedestrians as drivers, are admitted to hospital each year. Many crashes involving Aboriginal people are not reported.
Many Government policy statements recognise that driver licensing, custodial sentences, employment and life expectancy for Aboriginal people, whether in urban, rural and remote situations, are inextricably linked. Systematically increasing the numbers of Aboriginal people who obtain, as well as retain, their driver’s licence through a dedicated Aboriginal Driver Licensing Program would be a powerful start.
These and other approaches, all serve to raise the profile of road safety as a key issue of concern in Aboriginal communities. Infrastructure treatments such as road sealing and maintenance within and around Aboriginal communities, together with improved road signage, help reduce road trauma for all drivers as well as Aboriginal drivers.