ROWS of 107 empty seats lined Diamond Park near a busy Murray Bridge intersection on Tuesday, May 17.
They were not set up in preparation for an event or a celebration; rather empty to portray a powerful image; each chair represented a life lost on our roads in the region during the past 10 years.
The display of empty seats was designed to evoke a visual representation of what is missing; 107 lives lost on our roads, 107 families without loved ones.
The RAA - in support for the annual National Road Safety Week initiative from May 16-22 - took to regional South Australia this week to help spread the message of the importance of paying attention on our roads.
RAA Traffic Engineer Matthew Vertudaches said the number of lives lost on South Australia's regional roads increased to 71 last year - up from 64 in 2020 - despite the best efforts of road safety advocates, and the RAA was out in the regions to help spread a safety message.
"For me its a touching ... the number of seats represents the 107 lives lost in 10 years just within the region ... a number on a page doesn't do it justice, you can get a bit desensitized to statistics ... it reinforces the message we are pretty vulnerable as human beings," he said.
The RAA reports the number of people seriously injured on regional roads also grew significantly from 310 to 343 in the same period, leaving many with life changing physical and mental trauma.
RAA Senior Manager Infrastructure and Road Safety Charles Mountain said the display highlighted the tragic extent of lives lost across the state in the past decade.
"RAA hopes these symbols will make people reflect on the physical as well as emotional toll of road trauma on victims, their friends and families and the broader community,'' he said.
"Sadly, SA Police figures show people living in regional and remote areas are over-represented in lives lost, which is one of the reasons why this year we are focusing on vulnerable road users.''
Mr Mountain said almost two-thirds (638) of total fatalities occurred on regional roads in the past decade occurred on regional roads.
National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative created by the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group to honour those who have lost their lives or have been injured on Australia's roads.
SA Police traffic services branch officer in charge superintendent Bob Gray said of all fatal collisions in South Australia, 75 per cent happened on regional roads.
"Unfortunately, there is a misconception among some drivers that these deaths account for metropolitan drivers or 'tourists','' he said.
"In fact, two out of three drivers who die on regional roads live within 20 kilometres of the crash site.
"SAPOL has recently produced an advertising campaign focussing on the vulnerability of regional drivers and the catastrophic consequences of inattention, drink and drug driving, speeding, and driving when fatigued.
"Nobody is immune to the dangers of driving on regional roads and road safety is everyone's responsibility."
Below is a table showing the number of lives lost in each regional SA Police Local Service Area in the past decade:
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