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Reporting Road Traffic Incidents

Road traffic incidents are a frequent occurrence in Western Australia and place a significant burden on the whole community. If these incidents are sensationalised or negatively framed, it can affect the attitudes of the audience and those involved in the incident, including first responders, families, friends, colleagues and loved ones who are still dealing with the consequences.

What can I do to provide information to the community in a manner that does not cause harm?

Journalists, reporters, editors, other media personnel and road safety professionals have a powerful role in educating and driving societal change by reporting road traffic incidents ethically.

To support those working in the media to report road traffic incidents in a manner that is respectful to those impacted by road trauma and has a positive effect on road safety, Injury Matters has developed Reporting Road Traffic Incidents: A resource for the media and road safety sector’.

When using evidence-based reporting we play a key role in:

  • Generating awareness of how frequent and serious road traffic incidents are,
  • Increasing knowledge of key road safety behaviours, and
  • Growing awareness of where to seek support if needed.

What are key elements to consider when reporting a road traffic incident?

As outlined in the new resource there are eight core concepts to consider when reporting on road traffic incidents:

Help-seeking information – the provision of at least two crisis support services in any news article, which is selected based on the mode of communication and topic at hand.

Describing the road traffic incident – it is vital that all reports of road traffic incidents are presented in context, only include information known to be accurate and provide a balanced portrayal of the incident.

Language – consider the language used and how it may be interpreted by the audience.

Use of imagery – photos and video footage should not be published or broadcast before all families involved in the road traffic incident have been notified.

Interviews and consent – informed consent should be obtained from an appropriate contact of the individual/s involved in the road traffic incident before identifying those involved.

Comments from experts – the inclusion of expert comments from individuals who specialise in the relevant field, can assist you in interpreting data providing context to the causality of the incident.

Story prominence – adequate length and placement of the road traffic report is important.

Looking after yourself – reporting road traffic incidents can be distressing, and it is important to safeguard your wellbeing and look out for one another in the workplace.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by a road crash, contact Road Trauma Support WA on 1300 004 814.

Additional guidance

Injury Matters’ encourages you to reduce the impact of road trauma and support those affected by a road traffic incident by utilising the below resources to report road traffic incidents responsibly.