Ministers’ focus on road safety welcomed, but much more to be done
At a time when the national road death toll is increasing, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has welcomed the focus ministers have given road safety after their first road safety forum, chaired by Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, in Perth this week.
The AAA’s latest Benchmarking the Performance of the National Road Safety Strategy report released last week shows 1,273 people died on Australian roads in the year to September 2016, an increase from 1,187 a year earlier. It is also estimated that around 625 Australians are seriously injured on the roads each week.
All Australian Governments are signatories to the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) which aims to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2020. After encouraging progress in the early years, the number of road deaths has begun to trend up nationally since early 2015.
AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said: “It is heartening to see road safety receive this sort of attention from ministers at state and federal level. We look forward to seeing those actions agreed in this week’s meeting quickly rolled-out across Australia. We also look forward to seeing a reversal in the current increase in road deaths.”
The AAA has been calling on the Turnbull Government to invest $150,000 per year in the Australian Trauma Registry. This would gather important data on severe injuries due to road crashes and help better target road safety efforts.
During this week’s forum, ministers strongly supported improved data collection through the current national data linkage project being managed through Austroads. The AAA is very supportive of this project, but understands it is some years off completion.
“We are more than halfway through the national strategy to reduce the road toll and deaths are again on the rise. Time is not on our side. We urgently need better information to help target road safety efforts and we hope the Australian Government will soon find the funding needed for the Australian Trauma Registry,” Mr Bradley said.