Local Government History in the Future

Published on Tuesday, 21 December 2021 at 1:19:00 PM

At the heart of many of these road boards was safety, with the Latin phrase "Vias Tutas Cupimus" included on a number of Local Government crests.

This phrase translates to "we desire safe ways" and was also paraphrased by road boards who used phrases such as "safe highways are our aim" to reflect their intent for the road local road network.1

More than 150 years later, road safety is firmly focused on the safety of the road network. Now we think about road safety using a systems approach - taking into account that as road users (whether we drive, ride, cycle or walk) our bodies are vulnerable and need protecting if we are involved in a crash.

To prevent death and serious injury on our roads, we now aim for a combination of:

  • survivable speeds
  • vehicles which include active and passive safety features that can prevent crashes from occurring or reduce the severity of injury in the event of a crash,
  • roads and roadsides which minimise both the risk and impact of crashes,
  • legislation, policies and processes to embed best practice road safety into business (government and private) and community,
  • post-crash care to avoid preventable death and disability, and
  • road user compliance (following the road rules).

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that as humans, our bodies are vulnerable and we will always make mistakes on the roads (70 per cent of death and serious injuries in Western Australia are as a result of a mistake, not risky behaviour).

Just as the original road boards desired "safe ways", Local Governments have an important role in road safety as road managers, planning authorities and fleet managers, in addition to their community development and leadership roles.

1Christopher Berry, To Dwell in Unity: Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Local Government in Western Australia, 2021, Western Australian Local Government Association/Fremantle Press, West Leederville.


Pictured above: Local road boards focused on safe roads from their inception.

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