It is wise to reflect on changes over time and review what has been achieved, then consider where we should go next. Here we examine accomplishments in traffic and transport made 35 years ago. This report is based on the Traffic Authority of NSW Annual Report for 1987-1988 and shows just how much was attained in a single year.
1988 was a special celebratory year and many attitudes and practices were changing to make Australia a different place. Noteworthy items in NSW were:
A major education program using road safety funding was introduced into schools. An innovation was to integrate road safety messages into daily school activities to avoid overloading teachers with additional programs. Subjects included mathematics, reading, writing, science, social studies, and craft.
The baby restraint rental scheme while still a new concept was becoming more socially acceptable and expanded for from 93 to 140 schemes with 8,500 restraints available for rent. 120 crash sled tests were made on child seats and seatbelts.
Local presenters were used in TV road safety commercials to get the messages across at local community levels.
Newspaper supplements promoting road safety were co-funded by the newspapers themselves, increasing the promotional value and saving safety funds for other projects.
Research on vehicle occupant restraint systems and test dummies was carried out jointly with the USA Safety Administration, again giving a local budget saving.
Procedures were enacted to allow blood and urine samples to be taken from suspected drivers under the influence.
Red traffic light cameras were introduced. Because of the high cost only six cameras were installed and discretely moved between 20 signal sites.
A special voice and text messaging system was developed and used to manage the huge transport tasks for the massive Bicentennial Celebrations. This traffic information was shared with TV and radio media. Of course this was well before mobile phones.
The cost of the 1987 road accident toll was estimated to be $1.6B.
A rebate was offered to school parent associations to subsidise the cost of children’s bike safety helmets. Helmet wearing was not widely accepted at this time so the subsidy motivated parents to encourage their use.
Free “Click Clack” child restraint fitting checks were offered to private car owners.
The use of safety restraints for children aged under 12 months became a legal requirement. Although now widely accepted as common sense many attitudes at the time were different.
Using vehicle hazard warning lights during fog became legal.
Yellow road pavement lines were trialed to indicate No Stopping and No Standing areas.
A decision was made to combine the Traffic Authority with the Department of Motor Transport and the Department of Main Roads.
Remedial treatments were carried out at 216 black spots.
Various slant speed radar, aerial speed surveillance, mobile RBT and drug driving prevention measures were evaluated or implemented.
Computers were increasingly being used for road crash data analysis but had yet to proliferate in offices.
The Sydney Road Hierarchy Plan was updated and a CBD Traffic Management Strategy was developed.
40km/h speed zones were being gradually rolled out with the new local area traffic management schemes.
State bodies built 44 new roundabouts in the year while 65 new traffic signals were installed. 95 existing signals were connect to SCATS to give a total of 1,506.
A speed reduction campaign was jointly undertaken with Police and other government and non-government bodies.
Transport strategies for 16 regional centres were promoted.
A CBD parking stations signpost scheme was developed in conjunction with Council.
Guidelines for the Placement of Building Waste containers were developed as they had become a significant traffic problem.
Zig-zag advanced road markings were approved for pedestrian crossings to give motorists an additional warning. The number of children’s crossings increased to 699 from their introduction in 1985.
Six new Pelican Crossings were evaluated with the intention to extend the trial.
B-Double truck permitted roads were extended beyond the former limit to road train areas.
Shared traffic zones with a speed limit of 10km/h were introduced.
The Authority’s Guidelines for Tree Planting on Urban Roads won an architects’ institute award.
The international symbol for disabled people was adopted for their parking spaces.
Obviously this is a huge achievements list for one small government agency in a single year with only 124 staff. It is noted that the actual field works and other supporting tasks were carried out by the Department of Motor Transport, the Department of Main Roads, the Police Department and also some by Councils. Our AITPM life member Harry Camkin was the Traffic Authority Director at the time.