Leader's Debate Shouldn't Ignore Road Safety


In the lead up to Sunday nights' debate between Mr Howard and Mr Latham, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has called for a greater national focus on road safety.


The Executive Director of the AAA, Mr Lauchlan McIntosh today reiterated the fact that 5 people are killed on our roads every day.


"We should not accept the death and injury of thousands of Australians every year on our roads.  Since 1997, Australia's road toll has remained almost static at about 1700 deaths every year", said Mr McIntosh.


"AAA research shows the Australian public vastly underestimates the number of deaths on our roads with 65% believing 1000 people or less were killed in 2003, including 33% who thought the figure was 300 people or less.


"The survey points to a level of complacency and de-sensitisation in the community that requires community and Government leadership to turn it around. We should not see deaths on our roads as inevitable.


"In addition to enormous emotional burden that road crashes place on our society, in economic terms road crashes cost the community more than $40 million a day, or $15 billion a year.


"The Government's National Road Safety Strategy 2001-2010 (NRSS) aims to achieve a 40% reduction in the fatality rate by 2010. This equates to a saving of around 700 lives a year.  Unfortunately, in every year since its inception we have been behind the NRSS target.


"The Government's own research shows that improving the safety of roads could account for almost half of the target reduction in the fatality rate, and the rest could be saved by better driver behaviour, safer cars and new technology.


"The Government's AusLink transport plan consigned road safety to 'complementary policy issue' status when it should be a core component of any transport plan and the Opposition are yet to release any details on road safety policies.


"In our 2004 Election Submission the AAA has called on greater political leadership from the Prime Minister down to improve the focus of road safety policy, and to address the social and economic implications of road trauma", Mr McIntosh concluded.

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