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Media release

Data needed to explain alarming surge in cyclist deaths


Lack of published data means policy experts and the Australian community have no basis to understand why cyclist deaths surged by nearly a third in the past year.

New figures show the number of cyclists dying on Australian roads has surged by nearly a third in the past year.

But the lack of published data about the causes of these tragic deaths means policy experts and the Australian community have no basis to understand how to reverse this alarming trend.

Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics data shows road deaths among cyclists are rising faster than those of any other road user group – up by 30 per cent in the year to 30 September 2023.

In that 12-month period, 1,240 people died on Australian roads – 54 more deaths than in the previous corresponding period. The toll included 43 cyclists – up from 33 in the previous corresponding period.

Australia’s peak motoring body says governments and experts must examine data about the causes of crashes, the state of our roads and trends in police enforcement to determine what is going wrong on Australian roads so experts can devise more effective road safety policies.

State and territory governments hold the crucial data, but they are keeping it secret, AAA Managing Director Michael Bradley said.

“This dreadful surge in cyclists’ deaths, as well as increased death rates among motorists and pedestrians, demands more than a business-as-usual approach,” he said.

“Data transparency will let us examine the evidence to figure out what’s happening.”

Mr Bradley said crash data held by states and territories would reveal what factors are driving the increase in deaths, allowing experts to work out the most effective policy responses to save lives.

“Politicians have been too slow to act on road safety,” Mr Bradley said. “Despite billions of dollars being spent every year, more people are dying on our roads.

“There is a better way – data transparency.’’

The AAA’s Data Saves Lives campaign is calling on the Commonwealth to compel state and territory governments to publish road safety data as a condition of receiving federal road grants.

“The only way to get meaningful data is by tying road funding to data provision to lock in accountability and transparency,” Mr Bradley said.

“The Commonwealth can achieve this by writing data transparency into the next five-year National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects, which is now being negotiated to replace the current agreement which expires on 30 June 2024.

“The Commonwealth already attaches data requirements to funding in health and education. Road funding should be no different.’’

Mr Bradley said data transparency and evidence-based policy making were common sense.

“We’re calling on the Federal Government to step up and take a leadership position on road safety to protect drivers, cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.

“Data transparency and evidence-based policy will cost next to nothing and save lives.’’

For more detail see datasaveslives.org.au.

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