Call To Eliminate ‘High-Risk’ Sections Of The National Highway


A report released today by the Australian Automobile Association into the priorities and safety of the National Highway System (NHS) has found that it is no safer to travel on than other roads in Australia.


The Report shows that 263 fatalities, or 14.6% of all road fatalities occurred on the NHS in the year 2000. Considering that the NHS handles 14.2% of total traffic volume, this is extremely disappointing.


The Executive Director of the Australian Automobile Association, Lauchlan McIntosh, said that, based on traffic volume, the NHS is no safer than the rest of Australia’s roads even though it is supposed to be the nation’s highest order road network, providing strategic links between major economic centres.


"The States and the Commonwealth have agreed to work towards a 40% reduction in fatalities by 2010. We believe the Commonwealth should adopt a similar target for the NHS and order its priorities and planning accordingly," Mr. McIntosh said.


"The Report clearly indicates that there are ‘high risk’ sections of the NHS and these ‘high risk’ sections should be addressed as a matter of urgency.


"Head-on collisions are a major cause of fatalities on highways yet only 7% of the NHS is divided. In Canada 25% of the national highway system is divided and in the United States 70% is divided. While not suggesting we should match the US and Canadian levels, AAA believes it is time that the design standards for the NHS were reviewed.


"The Report demonstrates that there has been a substantial funding shortfall for the NHS for many years. While we accept there is no magic-wand solution to this funding shortfall we strongly urge the Federal Government to adopt a 5-year rolling works program and 10-year strategic plan for the NHS and to make it a funding priority during that period. We believe this should be a key objective for the incoming Howard Government.


"We have prepared this report to provide constructive input into the task of reducing Australia’s road toll by 40% by 2010. If this can be achieved, 700 fewer motorists will be dying on our roads annually by 2010," Mr. McIntosh said.

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