Canberra's hundreds of roundabouts have made it the butt of jokes around the rest of the country for decades but road safety experts have confirmed what we knew all along: they do make our roads safer.
In a national road safety discussion this week, Canberra's roundabouts were specifically identified as one of many "peculiarities" which contribute to a much safer ACT road network, but which were were "not typical of the rest of Australia".
Roundabouts have been been the source of much fun poked at the national capital over the years, including in the viral video by local comedian Tom Armstrong, Shit Nobody Says in Canberra. The rainbow roundabout in Braddon has more recently been the target of such jokes.
However, the head of the national office of road safety, Gabby O'Neill, said that the ACT's roundabouts were highly effective in reducing collision risks compared with other types of intersections.
"At roundabouts you need to slow your speed of entry, you are less likely to have a collision at the intersection and if you are, it's of low severity," she said.
At the most recent count, Canberra had about 800 roundabouts.
In a study conducted five years ago by the Monash University Accident Research Centre into impact speed and injury severity at roundabouts, it found casualty crash reductions in the order of 75 per cent compared with conventional uncontrolled intersections.
Ms O'Neill said the ACT's large number of cycleways and separated pathways were another major benefit in getting vulnerable road users off the roads, where they were at greater risk.
In fact, she said, the ACT's fatality rates were more comparable with Nordic countries like Denmark and Sweden than other parts of Australia.
"The ACT has a huge number of separated pathways, for instance bicycles and pedestrians are not on the roads; there are significant trails to travel vast distances across the ACT off the road network," she said.
"You are not getting to truly high speeds in the ACT.
"Not all, but most roads are under 90km/h, there's also significant width for vehicles to travel safely."
Responding to questions posed at the joint select committee of road safety this week, transport policy expert Dr Louise Rawlings said that there were "all sorts of factors" which contributed to the ACT's low road fatality rate.
Among these, she said, were the low vehicle kilometres travelled in the ACT, the generally younger (newer) age of the vehicle vehicle fleet "which have more active safety features", the general quality of the roads, the speeds, and "demographic factors as well".
While the ACT could be described as the national benchmark on the lowest number of fatalities per head of population and kilometres driven, the chair of the road safety committee, Nationals MP and former transport minister Darren Chester, said a comparison was unfair when other jurisdictions like the Northern Territory had road systems "more like remote parts of Canada".
Ms O'Neill said there was ample evidence about road safety treatments that work "but you do need a lot of community support, you need a groundswell of support, and you need investment."
"And you need to know where your risk is," she said.
"Some people say it [making roads safer and reducing road trauma] is more complex than rocket science because it's got so many people involved.
"Everybody thinks that they are an expert driver; everybody thinks that they have the right to be on the road; it's very difficult when people are using their own private transport to suggest that might need to do something else, or have a different type of vehicle; it's very much personal choice.
"We are stepping into territories where ownership of your own behaviour and vehicle is quite strong.
"You're not applying logic [to a solution], when the evidence and the countermeasures are really quite clear."
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