More Than 100 Die on Roads in 2005 - Its Time for Action, Not Inquiries
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 and to redesign them to make them safer in a bid to lower the road toll.
“2005 was another horror year on our roads, with the toll estimated to have topped 1,600 deaths – that’s nearly 5 deaths per day and is no better than the 2004 result. There was also likely to have been more than 20,000 serious injuries including paraplegia, quadriplegia, limb amputation and permanent brain damage,” AAA Director of Research and Policy,John Metcalfesaid.
“We don’t need more inquiries to address the problem – we need action.”
Mr Metcalfe saidAustralia’s National Road Safety Strategy was established with the specific aim of reducing the annual road fatality rate by 40% between 1999 and 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, the chances of achieving the national road safety target are becoming increasingly slim,” he said.
“The roads themselves are more important in road safety than most people think. We can avoid crashes by redesigning roads to make them safer.”
Mr Metcalfe said 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.
“Authorities are right to point out that motorists have a responsibility to drive safely. But drivers are fallible and make mistakes – they should not have to pay with their lives for a momentary lapse in concentration,” Mr Metcalfe said.
AAA has initiated 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
“Federal and State governments keep announcing Budget surpluses year after year - it's now time to get serious about saving lives on our roads with significantly increased road investment through AusLink and an emphasis on safety,” Mr Metcalfe said.