A traffic tragedy very close to home has convinced two academics to push for a formal road safety unit to be introduced at Curtin University.
In 2010, a Curtin College student from Bangladesh who was hoping to enter the University’s civil engineering program died in a car crash not far from Curtin’s Bentley campus.
“That was devastating,” Department of Civil Engineering head Hamid Nikraz told Curtin News.
“One of our lecturers had been a mentor for the student and had built close links with his family.”
Professor Nikraz said the fatal accident was deeply felt by the student’s family and the University’s staff and students.
The tragedy brought into sharp focus a paper that Professor Nikraz, lecturer and researcher Ali Golshani, and Mrs Zhila Nikravan – a vocational senior lecturer at the Australian Institute of Commerce and Technology – had recently completed for a conference in Spain.
Reduction of Road traffic accidents among young drivers through university and vocational studies notes that 3000 people die every day in crashes around the world.
In terms of lost human life, the number of deaths equates to a 9/11 disaster every single day.
“Civil engineers are responsible for traffic engineering and the physical elements of road safety,” Professor Nikraz said.
“What we were trying to do with the paper was focus on the human element.”
The paper lays the foundation for a road safety elective to be introduced in the University’s Engineering Foundation Year program.
The idea is still embryonic, but Mr Golshani said talks were well advanced and some material already entered on the University Blackboard online teaching system.
“We have got a lot of programs in schools that teach kids about traffic and safety but, by the time young people start driving, a lot of the lessons have been forgotten,” Mr Golshani said.
“If we can arrange a unit to remind students about road safety then we might be able to help reduce the accident rate.”
The proposed course would stress the importance of seatbelt wearing, the dangers of speeding, and the perils of driving when intoxicated or tired.
The idea has a precedent of sorts – at Queensland University of Technology – which offers a graduate diploma and a certificate in road safety for students interested in entering transport-related fields.
Mr Golshani said the Curtin course would be an elective ‘half unit’ focusing on road transport’s role in society, and the economic and social impact of crashes.
The proposed elective would run for three hours a week for 12 weeks, and carry credit toward an Engineering degree.
Mr Golshani said that, once trialed, it would be possible to adapt the unit for other areas of the University.
PHOTOGRAPHY: SAM PROCTOR