Australians Vastly Underestimate the Loss of Life from Road Crashes


The Executive Director of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), Mr Lauchlan McIntosh, today released some key findings from a national survey on safer roads.  The survey of over 1700 Australians in all States and Territories was undertaken in July 2004 by ANOP on behalf of AAA.


“One of the surprise findings was the lack of appreciation for just how many Australians are killed each year on our roads,” said Mr McIntosh.


The survey showed deaths on our roads were vastly underestimated with 65% believing 1000 people or less were killed in 2003, including 33% who thought the figure was 300 people or less.   The actual number of people killed in road crashes in 2003 was much higher at 1628.


“Since 1997, Australia’s road toll has remained almost static. Today like every other day this year, an average of 5 people will die in road crashes. The survey results show that the extent of the carnage on our roads is not resonating with the general public.


“The survey points to a level of complacency and de-sensitisation in the community that requires community and Government leadership to turn around. We should not see deaths on our roads as inevitable,” Mr McIntosh said.


Notwithstanding the underestimation of the road toll, the survey did identify road safety as ‘mid-level’ health and safety issue in the community, on par with obesity and depression, but below drug and alcohol abuse and cancer.


Other findings released include changes in driver behaviour, car crashworthiness and perceived causes of road crashes.


“The vast majority of people nominated driver behaviour issues like speed, drink driving and fatigue, as the causes of road accidents. Only 13% of respondents ranked roads in their top three causes of road crashes even though fixing the roads has a greater potential to save lives than most people think.


“The Federal Government’s National Road Safety Strategy estimates that by 2010 around 332 lives could be saved each year through improved roads, 175 because of safer vehicles, 158 by better driver behaviour and 35 by the use of new technology,” Mr McIntosh concluded.

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