In an effort to curb an alarming increase in the number of fatalities directly related to the absence of a seatbelt, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) have returned to shock advertising. The advertisements are aimed to raise awareness about the importance of wearing a seatbelt while travelling on Victorian roads.
In the 1980s and 1990s, many of the television advertisement campaigns operated by the TAC included graphic re-enactments of road trauma, with subjects including children being thrown through car windows and lying crumpled in the middle of a road.
One of these advertisements from 1992 showed a young woman sitting in the backseat of a car without a seatbelt, who is thrown through the windscreen when the car she is travelling in has to brake suddenly. The clip also depicts part of her difficult rehabilitation process as she learns to walk again. Although there was a decline in the number of road related deaths and serious injuries over this time, many question whether this is the result of such campaigns or the implementation of road safety regulations such as alcohol and drug testing.
In recent years, TAC safety campaigns have used less graphic imagery to convey the importance of road safety, with advertisements focusing on behaviours that drivers may not themselves have identified as dangerous. These include the length of time that a driver's attention is averted from the road while they look at a phone or electronic device, and the impact that aggressive driving can have on children as passengers in a vehicle. The TAC also often uses holiday seasons to draw attention to additional police presence on the roads and the importance of adhering to driving regulations during these busy times.
Genna Angelowitsch, Special Counsel and head of transport accident claims at Adviceline Injury Lawyers, said it was important that the TAC balance the need for public awareness with the needs and vulnerabilities of victims of road trauma and their families.
The sad reality is that 50 years after the introduction of mandatory seatbelt requirements in Victoria, there is still an unacceptably high number of deaths and serious injuries which are directly attributed to the absence of a seatbelt, said Genna.
However, it's important that the need to raise public awareness about these significant issues is balanced with the needs of individuals who have been injured or lost loved ones on our roads.
Graphic content such as the recently reintroduced TAC safety campaign can be extremely harmful to the mental health of individuals living with post-traumatic stress disorder after a transport accident. It can also be very difficult for individuals whose family members have died as a result of road trauma.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident on the road, contact our TAC team on (03) 9321 9704 for a consultation on your options.