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Describing the road traffic incident

As with reporting any other event, 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.

Due to the long-lasting impact of road trauma on the affected community, it is important that what is being reported on is not trivialised. Evidence and local data is helpful to give the audience context around the extent of the problem in WA and in reinforcing that the incident was not an isolated event.

To access WA’s latest road traffic fatality data visit the Road Safety Commission website or for traffic and crash data, visit the Main Roads website.

Journalists play a key role in raising community awareness of the multiple factors, including behaviour, that contributed to the road traffic incident and the severity of the incident.

Person-based language is needed when describing the road traffic incident, however it is vital that all elements that contributed to the incident are outlined. Driving Change, WA’s current road safety strategy, can assist in increasing your understanding of the core principles of a safe transport system.

What to avoid when describing road traffic incidents

Details that may identify individuals involved in the incident. i.e. the inclusion of the person’s occupation and the location of the incident may be enough information for a loved one to identify the individual involved.

Counterfactual statements that imply that the incident could have been avoided if those involved behaved differently. Despite human involvement in the majority of road traffic incidents, these kinds of statements are not helpful for legal reasons and in consideration of the family.

Statements that undermine the trauma caused to those involved in the incident and the broader community. I.e. insensitively reporting traffic delays.

Reporting Road Traffic Incidents: A resource for the media and road safety sector.

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