IFM expert claims inaugural award for women in road safety

New Zealnd Minister of Transport Hon. Michael Wood, Dr Liz de Rome, Austroads Chief Executive Dr Geoff Allan

Leading road safety expert and IFM Honorary Associate Professor Liz de Rome has been awarded the inaugural Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) Women in Road Safety Award.

The ACRS is the region’s peak membership association for road safety professionals, advocates and members of the public who are focused on saving lives and serious injuries on our roads.

Dr de Rome was presented the inaugural award in September, which recognises the valuable role that women play in reducing road trauma, by Hon Michael Wood, New Zealand Minister of Transport, at the ACRS Conference in Ōtautahi Christchurch, New Zealand.

Dr de Rome says she feels very honoured to have been singled out for recognition in this way – particularly for this inaugural award for women in road safety.

‘There are many other women, who have come before me but have not been recognised for their work,’ Dr de Rome says.

‘There are relatively few people, let alone women, working in motorcycle safety.

‘It was the lack of attention to motorcycle safety that first drew my attention. Knowing the statistics, I was surprised to discover that, at the time, there was a prevailing view that motorcycles were an inherently high-risk form of transport, which should not be encouraged.

‘At the time, motorcyclists represented 10 per cent of road fatalities and 7 per cent of casualties, they are now 18 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. Not because they are more dangerous but because we have improved the safety of other road users.

‘In fact, the actual rate of motorcycle crashes, fatalities and injuries is much lower than it was when I first started in the area.’

Dr de Rome, who started working in road safety in 1994, has spent most of her career influencing researchers, policy makers and practitioners around Australia to deliver safer outcomes for all road users.

The ACRS acknowledged a range of her accomplishments such as her contribution to the development of the very first Motorcycle Safety Strategy in New South Wales through to her research into the quality of protective clothing to reduce injuries for motorcycle riders, which culminated in the international award-winning Australasian MotoCAP initiative.

Today, Dr de Rome continues her research for MotoCAP as Honorary Associate Professor at the Institute for Frontier Materials.

She says women play a valuable role in road safety because women offer a different, perspective to men when determining priorities.

‘There was some discussion at the Conference about the way the priorities in road design and maintenance tends to be based on efficiency of transport, cost and safety – in that order,’ she says.

‘[For women entering the road safety path it] can be a difficult path and highly competitive  …

‘It is therefore very important to establish good working relationships and networks across the whole road safety sector, including research institutes, government agencies, motoring organisations and NGOs.’

To learn more about MotoCAP, visit