23 July 2014
Research by a University of the Sunshine Coast academic into the systemic causes of road trauma has today won a competitive Commonwealth Government grant of almost $850,000.
USC Accident Research leader Professor Paul Salmon received the funding under the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Future Fellowships scheme.
Professor Salmon, who is currently attending a road safety conference in Krakow, Poland, described the fellowship funding announcement as “truly amazing news”.
“This research is going to have a real impact in road safety research and practice worldwide,” he said. “Our session this week at the conference has had a big impact and now we have the funding that will allow us to further advance these ideas and create even more significant impact.”
Professor Salmon’s research seeks to apply new methods to uncover information about why road accidents occur and to establish new approaches and interventions to counter the growing levels of road trauma.
“By 2030, road trauma is expected to be the fifth leading cause of global deaths,” he said in his submission to the ARC. “Although it has been successful in reducing road trauma in the past, the current road user centric road safety approach is now failing to control this global health epidemic. A new approach is needed if we are going to fundamentally change road systems in order to make them safe.
“Although systems thinking is widely accepted to be the most effective approach for understanding and enhancing safety in complex systems, it has not yet been adopted in road safety efforts. This philosophy provides methodologies that enable us to better understand the wider systemic causes of accidents and then design systems that are safer and more efficient.”
“The project aims to apply a novel, integrated framework of systems analysis and design methods to the so-called 'fatal five' causes of road trauma to create new knowledge on their causes and to develop and test new interventions that will enable the achievement of currently unreachable road safety targets.”
USC’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Roland De Marco congratulated Professor Salmon on becoming an ARC Future Fellow.
“This a real feather in Paul’s cap and a testimony of the high national and international standing as well as the excellence of his research,” he said.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne today announced Professor Salmon as one of 150 new Future Fellows who will receive a total of $115 million.
Mr Pyne said the Future Fellowships scheme promoted research in areas of critical national importance by supporting outstanding mid-career researchers to conduct their research in Australia.
“It is crucial that we provide support for the nation’s most highly qualified mid-career researchers. We need to ensure that Australia’s best minds stay in this great country to do their research, which in turn bolsters our capacity to innovate,” he said.
USC was one of only three universities in Queensland to gain fellowships under this round of the ARC Future Fellowships scheme.
– Terry Walsh