Road Fatalities up in 2009
Australia's peak motoring organisation, the Australian Automobile Association, has called on the Federal Government to expedite its road safety strategies, warning the national road toll is likely to be higher in 2009 than the previous year.
AAA, which represents Australia's motoring clubs and their almost 7 million members, said figures released by the Federal Government's Transport Department showed that, despite a drop in deaths last month, there is a 6 per cent increase in the fatality rate in 2009 compared to the same time last year.
The Road Deaths Australia monthly bulletin for August shows 113 people died on Australian roads last month – more than 20 per cent down on August 2008. Despite this drop, figures for 2009 to date show a 6 per cent increase in fatalities, with 1,024 deaths to the end of August.
AAA Chief Executive, Mike Harris, called on the Government to take action, including appointments to the newly-established National Road Safety Council and development of a new National Road Safety Strategy.
"The 2009 road toll figures are disturbing and, while the August figures showed a drop on the same month last year, it is clear that, based on current trends, the 2008 figure will be surpassed this year, which is a national tragedy," Mr Harris said.
"The reduction in the 2008 road toll figure was welcome news, but it is clearly trending back up – the public needs to understand that we have an average of almost five people dying every day on Australian roads, which is the equivalent of four Jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors.
"The Government is currently drafting a new National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) to follow the current 10-year NRSS, which concludes this year, and there needs to be some targeted actions to bring down the unacceptably high road toll figure.
"The NRSS will fall well short of its stated target of cutting the fatality rate by 40 per cent between 1999 and 2009. Road deaths and trauma cost the Australian economy an estimated $17 billion, which is an enormous drain on our financial and more importantly human resources.
"The National Road Safety Council was announced in the May Federal Budget, but to date we have not seen any appointments to this Council, which has a broad objective to contribute to a reduction in death and serious injury on Australian roads by enhancing the national implementation of effective road safety measures.
"We urge the Government to expedite the development of the new 10-year NRSS and to appoint the Road Safety Council members to tackle this problem which is again increasing in terms of fatalities and trauma."