HIGHWAY 35 – A COMMUNITY ARTS APPROACH TO ROAD SAFETY BEHAVIOUR
The area around the township of Lucindale in the South East of South Australia has the highest rate of fatalities per capita in the state from road crashes.
Road safety concerns in the nearby town of Keith include drink driving, the perception of ‘invincibility’ of young drivers, hoon driving and the risks to passengers of getting into a car when drivers engage in risky behaviour.
Education and public awareness are critical factors in improved road safety.
In 2008 the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure provided funding for a community arts project that would raise community consciousness about road safety behaviour. The resulting project, named Highway 35, brought together local government, police, community members, Country Arts SA officers, Principals, teachers and secondary school students with a professional artist to produce a series of short documentary films and advertisements that demonstrate, from the students’ perspectives, the effects of road trauma; on the person who dies or is seriously injured—their loss of potential; and the grief experienced by family, friends and the broader community.
The advertisements were shown on local television networks in November 2009. The arts have been a powerful vehicle for getting the road safety message out there.
This is the story behind Highway 35, and the story of how the project has managed to touch so many.