Australia’s road fatality target in doubt
Australia is in danger of missing its target of reducing road fatalities by 30 per cent by 2020 if current trends continue, according to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).
Under the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) 2011–2020, federal, state and territory governments committed to reduce the annual numbers of both deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads by at least 30 per cent. The AAA today released its quarterly report tracking progress towards this goal.
According to the AAA report in 2015:
- there was a significant increase in the number of drivers killed (up 4.7 per cent to 560) and passengers killed (up 9.2 per cent to 249) compared to 2014
- the number of motorcyclists killed increased by 5.8 per cent to 202.
AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said: "The report shows the continuation of a very disturbing upward trend in road fatalities which began in March 2015. The reality is that if the trend of 2015 continues, we will very quickly be in a situation where the 2020 target will be beyond reach.”
According to the Australian Government the annual economic cost of road crashes in Australia is around $27 billion[i]. This is equivalent to roughly half of the total $50.9 billion[ii]Australia’s massive agriculture sector contributes to the economy.
"Beyond that we’re talking about the lives of Australians. Our analysis shows that if all jurisdictions were able to match Victoria’s fatality rate of 4.3 per 100,000 population, 181 more Australians would have survived 2015,” Mr Bradley said.
Mr Bradley said that while some improvement can be delivered by increased driver education and better driver behaviour, in a federal election year, it’s important to examine the road safety policies of those seeking office and to argue for investment and improvements.
“An excellent first step the Government and Opposition could take would be to guarantee long-term funding for the keys2drive program which provides a free lesson to both the learner driver and their instructing parent or guardian,” he said.
“Once young drivers get their P Plates, their risk of being harmed in a crash increases by up to 3000 per cent. But a 2013 University of NSW study found that keys2drive participants in NSW had a self-reported crash rate of just 4.5 per cent compared with 9.9 per cent for those who had not done keys2drive.”
Mr Bradley also called for better information on road crash injuries.
“While we know the road toll has risen in 2015, fatalities are just the tip of the iceberg. Because different states report differently we don’t really know how many Australians are injured in road crashes.
“The NRSS estimated there were 32,500 injuries per year at the commencement of the strategy, but we just don’t have any information to track this.
“A first step to reducing road trauma is fully understanding the problem. The AAA encourages the Federal Government to work with state and territory transport ministers to be able to track the national number of road crash injuries. We have to track this data if we are to tackle this challenge.”
To see the full Benchmarking the Performance of the National Road Safety Strategy report, visit http://www.aaa.asn.au/storage/aaa-benchmarking-report-december-2015-final-web-version1.pdf
[ii] ABS, 7503.0 - Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, 2013-14 (released May 2015)