Current National Road Safety Strategy Failure
Australia’s peak motoring organisation, the Australian Automobile Association, has called for a broad public debate on how to decrease fatalities on Australia’s roads in the lead up to development of a new 10-year National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS).
AAA Chief Executive, Mike Harris, said the current NRSS, which is due to expire in 2010, has fallen well short of the road fatality targets set in 1999 when it was formulated by the Commonwealth and all State governments (see attached chart).
“Despite increased road infrastructure spending, much safer vehicles and a strong focus on young driver education, the NRSS targets have not been met and we as a society have become desensitised to the fact some 5 people die every day on Australian roads, and 80 people are hospitalised due to road trauma,” Mr Harris said.
“At the time of developing the NRSS in 1999, the aim was to bring the fatality rate down from 9.4 deaths per 100,000 of population to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 by 2010 – while there has been a drop in the fatality rate to 7.2, it is still well above the original target that should have been met by this time in 2009.
“Last year saw road fatalities drop for the first time in several years to 1,464 deaths – an 8.7 per cent reduction over 2007 – but the latest fatality figures show it is likely to rise this year.
“The most recent figures show several states have had noticeable increases in road deaths in 2009, particularly NSW, South Australia and Tasmania, and tracking against the NRSS shows the 2009 rates to be well over target.
“The NRSS is the blueprint for road safety in Australia and we need a wide-ranging public debate to ensure all parties are properly informed about the scope of the problem, to understand why the current strategy has largely failed and to develop some workable solutions.
“Consistent with a recent OECD report, Towards Zero, the NRSS for 2010-20 needs to adopt a highly ambitious vision for road safety, set interim targets to move systematically towards the vision, develop a safe system approach that is essential for achieving ambitious targets and invest in road safety.
“Sustained government commitment at the highest level is also essential to improve road safety – the immediate establishment of the National Road Safety Council will be an important step in this process.
“It is not about setting a less ambitious or easily achievable target – it is about developing solutions, educating the motoring public and working together to bring down this unacceptably high rate.”