Great Southern Police District records devastating 2021 road toll

Sean Van Der Wielen and Bethany HiattGreat Southern Herald
The scene of the fatal crash on Albany Highway, north of Kendenup.
Camera IconThe scene of the fatal crash on Albany Highway, north of Kendenup. Credit: Liam Croy/Great Southern Herald

The Great Southern Police District has recorded its worst road toll in five years, with COVID-19 travel restrictions taking part of the blame for the tragic increase.

Twenty-seven people died on the roads last year in the Great Southern police district, which extends from Brookton in the north to Albany in the south.

That toll is 37 per cent higher than the five-year average of 19.6 deaths.

It is in line with the Statewide road toll, with the 166 deaths on WA roads in 2021 being the worst result in five years.

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Two of the final fatal crashes of 2021 occurred on Great Southern roads.

On Christmas Day, Perth lawyer and migration agent Graeme Carmody, 47, was killed in a crash on Albany Highway near Kendenup.

On December 29, a 50-year-old man died after his motorcycle struck a tree off Nornalup Road in Rocky Gully.

RAC external relations general manager Will Golsby said WA continued to have one of the poorest road safety records in the country.

He pointed out that COVID-19 border restrictions had increased intrastate travel.

“While it’s been fantastic to see so many Western Australians choosing to holiday in WA and support regional tourism, this has meant more motorists, travelling longer distances, on some of the most dangerous roads in the country,” he said.

“It’s critical we don’t lose sight of the risks we face behind the wheel so we urge everyone to slow down, ditch the distractions, take regular breaks and be patient with one another.”

Road Safety Minister Paul Papalia said his thoughts were with families who lost loved ones last year.

He said the lower death toll recorded in 2020 could largely be attributed to two months of lockdown which prevented people from travelling as normal.

“The death toll on our roads has been close to stable over the last five years, despite a growing population and the number of WA-licensed drivers increasing — this indicates our efforts in road safety are having an impact,” he said.

“But any number is one too many and we are doing more to reduce road trauma than ever before in the State’s history.”

Mr Papalia said the McGowan Government had invested heavily in improving regional road safety, with more than 7000km of regional roads on target to be upgraded by July.

“The Road Safety Commission will this year trial new mobile point-to-point cameras which can be moved around the metropolitan and regional areas, allowing police to target locations where people are most non-compliant,” he said.

“We all need to take personal responsibility for road safety and drive so others survive.”

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