Dr Faraz Jeddi and Luke Hayden-Brooks.

ACCIDENT victims will have extra support when a new La Trobe University initiative gets off the ground.

The proposed Rural Road Trauma Research Hub will examine the social and economic impact of serious road injury on regional communities and how it can be reduced.

Luke Hayden-Brooks’ life was turned upside down, when the now 28-year-old had a serious motorcycle accident in Kangaroo Flat.

His life has been impaired, he is close to being classed as legally blind, and his speech is seriously affected.

His rehabilitation doctor Faraz Jeddi said the accident injured Mr Hayden-Brooks’ brain.

“When the brain is involved there is always a large consequence,” Dr Jeddi said.

“The damage lasts for a long time, but our aim is to get people back to where they were.”

On a visit to Bendigo Health, federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the impacts of road trauma have been strongly felt by rural communities for too long.

“Road safety and the ongoing cost of care as a result of road trauma is an issue that is often raised with me. Every fatality, and every serious injury, on our roads is someone’s loved one,” she said.

The hub will combine research expertise from across La Trobe’s Bendigo campus, including in rural health, psychology, pharmacy, engineering, planning, education and law.

As part of the innovative model, research will focus on reducing the disproportionate number of people who die and are seriously injured on Australia’s rural roads each year.

Head of La Trobe’s Rural Health School, professor Pamela Snow, said people living in rural areas are more likely to die or suffer life-threatening injury than those living in metropolitan areas.

“This is due to the combined picture of road and driving conditions and people’s behaviour and judgement on rural and regional roads,” Ms Snow said.

“Therefore we need to produce safer diving conditions in terms of road and vehicle design and address attitudes and behaviours across a range of road user-groups.

“By taking a collaborative, inter-disciplinary approach, we can find place-based solutions that are more likely to work – because we know rural driving is different.”

Steve Kendall