Road Safety - Time for Action
Since 1997, Australia’s road toll has remained almost static. Today like every other day this year, an average of 550 people will be injured on our roads, 60 of them seriously and 5 people will die.
The National Road Safety Report “Eyes on the Road Ahead” prepared by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services, and tabled in the Parliament this week, highlights a number of key factors that are essential for improving the safety of Australia’s roads.
The Report’s recommendations cover many of the initiatives suggested by Australian Automobile Association (AAA) in its submission to the Inquiry, including: a national investment strategy for improving the safety of roads; a national system for rating the safety of roads; increased emphasis on road design, safety and maintenance standards; and that the Australian Government join the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
Responding to the report, the Executive Director of the AAA, Lauchlan McIntosh, welcomed the fact that the recommendations of the report covered the three themes of the recently launched SaferRoads initiative - safer drivers in safer vehicles on safer roads.
“The Report highlights the importance of increased road funding and better road design as key factors in addressing road safety alongside the higher profile areas of better driver behaviour and safer cars”, Mr McIntosh said.
“According to the research, fixing the roads has a greater potential to save lives than most people think. The Federal Government’s National Road Safety Strategy estimates that by 2010 around 332 lives could be saved each year through improved roads, 175 because of safer vehicles, 158 by better driver behaviour and 35 by the use of new technology.
“This Report provides the opportunity for both the Federal Government and the Opposition to review their policies in the lead up to the next election.
“Immediate action could be taken on many of the recommendations for little or no additional costs, including setting best practice benchmarks and incorporating them into National Road Safety Action Plans and improving national road crash injury data.
“The AAA calls on both sides of politics to make a commitment to an increased and extended National Blackspot funding program and for the Federal Government to join State & Territory Governments and Motoring Clubs in funding ANCAP.
“We have to look at ways of accelerating the provision of essential road infrastructure. It is time for a national debate on alternative infrastructure financing. Expenditure on road infrastructure is an investment, not a cost and the benefits accrue across the economy”, Mr McIntosh said.