Road safety and maintenance as we know is not only important, but it saves lives. Due to rising climate change issues, the ability to maintain Australia’s infrastructure and transport sectors has become more difficult.

The endless task of fixing potholes is the public’s largest and most common complaint about road infrastructure. Because of the ever-changing and increasing impact of climate change, this will all change. Road infrastructure and maintenance are becoming drastically more difficult and challenging worldwide.

It is important that we better our understanding of the connection between the impacts of climate change and road safety. As well as the transport sector on climate change and the solutions in common.

13 people lost their lives In the February – mid-March 2022 floods in Queensland. Of these, 10 deaths were related to vehicles and roads. It is clear that the impacts of climate change on road safety are rising in disaster-prone Australia and it is important we acknowledge and make changes as fast as possible.

Ever-growing dangers

Australia naturally has somewhat extreme weather conditions but as climate change increases, the severity and frequency of extreme weather, events, and disasters increase too. This includes intense rainfall, cyclones, floods, and bushfires. With more rain and heat waves, road conditions deteriorate and therefore statistically it has been proven that extreme weather patterns are associated with an increase in road crashes. 

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

Over the past 12 months, the increasing damage due to flooding has put a strain on local councils, leaving them with little opportunity to fix basic damage. When infrastructure is damaged directly due to climate change it takes away opportunity and resources to work on road safety improvements and maintenance.  

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has stated these challenges and it has been explicitly recognized on a large scale. This 2022 report acknowledges with high confidence that infrastructure, including transportation, has been compromised by extreme and slow onset events, resulting in economic losses, disruptions of services, and impacts on well-being. The report carries on to say that key infrastructure systems, including transport, will be at risk if our systems are not designed for the ever-changing climate issues.

Although In Australia, the transport sector is responsible for 17% of emissions, with it increasing every year. About three-quarters of transport emissions globally come from road vehicles. This results in poorer air quality which discourages people from using public and active travel options due to health risks and unpleasantness. Ultimately, this leaves most people relying on vehicles to travel. 

It’s time to redefine the safety part of road safety. With a total of around 13 million deaths or damage created by road emissions alone, we need to make a change. Nitrogen dioxide, a vehicle emission, is associated with four million cases of childhood asthma every year around the world. Plus a whopping nine million deaths a year are associated with fine particulate matter PM2.5 from found in vehicle emissions.

What can we do?

The simplest way to make a significant difference is to find new uses and solutions to reuse, repurpose and repair civil infrastructure. At GRT we pride ourselves on the scientifically researched, tried, and tested, range of products we provide that can be added to road surfaces for superior performance. Having diverse products and an unparalleled understanding of soil and pavement material diversity gives GRT the edge when providing products fit for your road needs. Our products can be used in combination with a range of soil types – whether they are naturally occurring onsite, or are being imported from a quarried source.

The IPCC report also addresses that there are solutions parallel to road transport and climate change challenges. The next big step would include a low-emission transport sector, this jump would bring many benefits to the challenges we are faced with. 

Reducing emissions in the transport sector includes many benefits including stronger air quality, health benefits, easy access to transportation services, reduced congestion on our roads, and reduced demand for repairs and maintenance.

The challenge has been set. It will take a joint effort from local councils and government departments, but achieving improved road conditions and sustainability in the future is possible.

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