Government Eyes are Off the Road
Australia’s peak motoring body has called on State and Federal Governments to speed up road safety initiatives to make Australian roads, cars and drivers safer.
The Australian Automobile Association – which represents more than 6 million motorists throughAustralia’s motoring clubs – said the current government inaction was costing Australian lives every day.
“Federal and State Governments are taking their eyes off the road,” AAA Executive DirectorLauchlan McIntosh, told a high-level meeting of Parliamentary Road Safety Committees inSydney today.
Mr McIntosh noted the fact that the Australian Road Safety Strategy – which is endorsed by all governments – had a target of reducing the fatality rate by 40 per cent by 2010, down to 700 a year from the current 1600 nationally.
“The way things are going now, the latest road death figures show we aren’t even coming close to achieving that target,” he said. (Please refer attached chart).
“Five Australians die every day on the roads – this is a national tragedy thatAustralia’s governments, the media and even the public seem to accept as normal.
“If we were to lose five people in a train crash or some workplace accident, there would be outrage and government inquiries – yet we accept five deaths a day on our roads.”
Mr McIntosh highlighted the inactivity surrounding the comprehensive Federal Parliamentary Inquiry report - Eyes on the Road Ahead – released in May 2004 and which received input from many stakeholders in road safety, including AAA.
“The Federal Parliamentary Committee Chairman, Paul Neville has expressed disappointment with his own Government’s response, and believes the recommendations were rejected because of Commonwealth-State jurisdiction issues.
“We can’t keep squabbling over who is responsible for road safety while people die and are seriously injured every day – yet our governments continue to point the finger at one another and nothing happens.
“The governments’ eyes are off the road on this one.”
Mr McIntosh called on the Federal Government to implement the various recommendations put forward in Eyes on the Road Ahead. Some of the recommendations rejected include:
- Setting best practice benchmarks for road safety activities;
- Uniform national speed limits;
- Increased funding to improve black spots;
- Ensure design and maintenance standards onAustralia’s national highway system conform with world’s best practice;
- National co-ordination of road safety campaigns;
- Uniform drug and drink driving penalties;
- Alcohol interlocks, seat belt reminders, reversing cameras and alarms in new cars; and
- Rollover testing for 4WDs.
“Its time for all Parliamentary Committees and road safety stakeholders to pick up these recommendations – to get their eyes back on the road and to work out ways to implement these recommendations that will save lives,” Mr McIntosh said.
“We acknowledge the Federal Government is doing things, including funding for AusLink, Roads to Recovery and the Australian Road Assessment Program which rates our roads for safety, but the recommendations contained in this report are practical, cost-effective and will save lives.
“Getting the Parliamentary Committees in one room is a good idea, but MPs and our governments need to walk away from today and decide how best to implement the wide range of recommendations contained in Eyes on the Road Ahead.”