News

Easter Road Deaths "Predictable and Unnecessary"

18.4.2006

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) -Australia's peak motoring body representing some six million motorists - today called on governments to use continuing Budget surpluses to increase investment inAustralia's roads to make them safer in a bid to save lives.

The deaths onAustralia’s roads during the Easter period was predictable and unnecessary, AAA Executive Director,Lauchlan McIntosh, said today.

“With ANZAC day next week - and potentially another long weekend - all drivers need to be careful and respect the roads they are driving on,” Mr McIntosh said.

“Unfortunately, every day inAustralia, five people die in road crashes and 60 receive seriously injuries including paraplegia, quadriplegia, limb amputation and permanent brain damage.”

Mr McIntosh saidAustralia's National Road Safety Strategy was established in 1999 with the specific aim of reducing the annual road fatality rate by 40% by 2010. The strategy identified that 332 lives each year - nearly half of the targeted improvement - can be saved by improving our roads.

"With the bad result for 2005 and poor performance so far this year, the chances of achieving that national road safety target are becoming increasingly slim," he said.

“Police and other authorities are right to point out that motorists have a responsibility to drive safely - no doubt people died and were injured from the dangerous, inappropriate and potentially criminal actions of others.

“But drivers are fallible and make mistakes – they should not have to pay with their lives for a momentary lapse in concentration.  The roads themselves are more important in road safety than most people think. We can avoid crashes by redesigning roads to make them safer."

“Often it is the road itself that either causes the crash or turns what could have been a minor crash into a killer.

“Roadside hazards are a factor in around 40% of car occupant fatalities - many, if not most, of those lives would have been saved if they had hit a guard rail instead of a tree or pole. Other lives lost to head-on crashes could have been saved by separating traffic flow with safety barriers.

“Much has been done to encourage and enforce safer driving. New cars are also becoming increasingly safe, though more can certainly be done.

“But this alone will not bring about the reductions planned in the national strategy - the biggest gains will come by building more safety features into the road systems.”

Mr Mcintosh said the AAA has established the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP), designed to rate roads for safety. 

AusRAP produces colour coded maps showing crash risk on Australia's national road network. The latest AusRAP report can be downloaded from www.ausrap.org.

AAA is also involved in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which crash tests new cars and awards them a star rating for safety.

“Governments acknowledge the importance of ensuring safer drivers and safer cars – surely now is the time for governments to use some of the ongoing budget surpluses to provide better road design and infrastructure,” Mr McIntosh said.

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