Signs to keep ‘em all safe
AN OPERATION targeting international driver education has been given the official green light with $9200 in funding being allocated in Safer Queensland Community Grants.
Operation Stanthorpe Backpackers will aim to keep backpackers and residents safe on Granite Belt roads.
Stanthorpe Road Policing Unit Sergeant Daniel O'Dea said he supported the initiative that the taskforce had instigated.
As a member of the taskforce, Sgt O'Dea said he believed that while the initial measure would not bring an end to all problems involving international drivers, it was a positive step in the right direction.
"In this community there are many factors which impact on road safety," Sgt O'Dea said.
"International road users are a concern for police and the community in general.
"However, backpackers are not the only road users involved in crashes."
Sgt O'Dea said the major contributing factor causing serious road trauma in the area was fatigue, with backpackers committing the same errors that local drivers do; including failing to give way and not driving to conditions
"The major difference between international drivers to locals is failing to keep left, this error can also be the most lethal as witnessed in March this year on the highway at Severnlea," he said.
"With this initiative we are hoping to reduce this risk and minimise further road trauma."
Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Peter Blundell said Operation Stanthorpe Backpackers was one of the key strategies identified by a taskfFunding a show of support for Stanthorpe's international driver education projectorce looking for ways to address the appalling overrepresentation of foreign backpackers in local road crashes.
"Statistics provided by local police, showed 18 crashes in the period January 1 to April 25 this year, with 44% of those caused by backpackers," Cr Blundell said.
The taskforce is made up of the SDRC, Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Police Service, Stanthorpe Road Safety Committee, RACQ and representatives from businesses that employ seasonal backpackers.
The funding will provide for the installation of clear signage at key points across the Stanthorpe district targeting, in particular, the need to drive on the left side of the road.
Cr Blundell said members of the taskforce recognised the importance of working collaboratively to educate backpackers about road safety as the number one priority.
"But we're also aiming to promote the region to these young people as a safe place for them to visit and to work," he said.
"We want them to be able to enjoy their time in our region, and drive safely on our roads."
Sgt O'Dea said he believed the initiative would benefit the community by increasing confidence that authorities are implementing measures to increase road safety.
"Only time will tell if this initiative is successful, however if we only save one life it will be worth the effort," he said.