Road Safety a Budget Priority
Australia’s peak motoring organisation, the Australian Automobile Association, has called on the Federal Government to build safety into its road infrastructure projects to bring down the national road fatality rate and to invest in two world-leading road safety programs – AusRAP and ANCAP.
AAA, in its Budget submission to the Government, welcomed the recent economic stimulus funding commitments for infrastructure projects and Black Spots around Australia, but urged greater consideration of safety aspects in the planning and design phases of road projects. (Recommendations are attached).
AAA’s Executive Director, Mike Harris, said building safety into the road infrastructure would save lives and reduce road trauma – which costs the Australian economy more than $17 billion a year.
“Despite the drop in road fatalities in 2008, we still have some 1500 people die every year on Australian roads and a further 85 hospitalised each day,” Mr Harris said.
“These figures are a national tragedy, and we can do something about bringing these levels of road trauma down by building safety into the road network as part of these massive infrastructure projects.
“AAA firmly believes this is an opportunity all governments – state and federal – should seize under the Nation Building Program (formerly AusLink), and we are asking for that program to be expanded to $25 billion for 2009-2014. Apart from the safety benefits, such further investment will also stimulate job creation.
“We are also asking for the Government to consider funding a $100 million per annum Black Links program, acknowledging the fact there are whole sections of road that are relatively dangerous.”
AAA has also called for funding to assist the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP), which star rates roads for safety (from 1 to 5 stars) to provide detailed information on the state of the national highway network and other roads, and the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which crash tests vehicles and awards them a star rating for safety.
“Both AusRAP and ANCAP are important tools in advising governments and motorists about road and vehicle safety and to help focus attention on the National Road Safety Strategy which aims to reduce the fatality rate on Australia’s roads,” Mr Harris said.
“These two programs complement the innovative keys2drive program to improve driver safety that receives significant Government funding and completes the internationally recognised safe systems approach to road safety – safer drivers in safer cars on safer roads."
What AAA would like to see in the 2009-10 Federal Budget:
- Confirmation of previously announced Black Spot funding of $140 million for 2008-09 and $120 million for 2009-10.
- Confirmation of previously announced funding of $711 million for roads in 2008-09 and 2009-10, $150 million for boom gates and $150 million for regional road maintenance projects.
- Two specific programs within the Nation Building Program (formerly AusLink) that specifically address road safety:
- $100 million per annum for a Black Links program; and
- $100 million per annum for a proactive road safety program to build safety into regional roads.
- Funding for the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) of $118,000 for 2008-09 and $300,000 for 2009-10.
- Continuation of funding for keys2drive.
- Funding of around $2 million to support an expanded crash testing program under the Australasian New Car Assessment program (ANCAP) that would complement a ‘stars on cars’ program that ATC is considering introducing.
- The roads component of the Nation Building Program for 2009-2014 expanded to $25 billion (2007 dollars).
- A specific program within the Nation Building Program to fund urban public transport projects.
- A commitment to maintain funding of $20 billion for the Building Australia Fund.
- Support for projects identified by AAA’s Constituent motoring Clubs in submissions to Infrastructure Australia.
- Funding from the Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF) allocated to expand the current Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) with Government collaborating with AAA and its Constituent Clubs to develop an enhanced website with a range of additional greenhouse gas (climate change) information.