In December 2017 the nation recorded its worst month of road fatalities in six years. Road deaths during the month numbered 129, the highest since November 2011 when 134 people died.
It is little surprise that independent research has shown Australian motorists are more concerned about road safety than any other factor influencing driving – including transport costs, congestion and vehicle emissions.
The social cost of road deaths is immeasurable, however, the economic impact of Australia’s road safety crisis is not. AAA research has found road crashes cost the Australian economy almost $30 billion annually, mainly in the form of foregone tax revenues, vehicle damage, and disability care.
With more than 100 Australians killed in car crashes every month, and equal numbers are seriously injured daily, there is an urgent need to reduce vehicle crashes and the AAA and its member clubs have a number of strategies and proposals to make our roads safer.
The AAA has developed a National Road Safety Platform, outlining key steps the federal government should take in coordinating a national response to road safety.
In the platform, the AAA advocates for:
The National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) was signed in 2011 by all Australian governments with the aim of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by at least 30 per cent by 2020.
The AAA regularly benchmarks the NRSS and tracks progress being made against the stated target of reducing road deaths. For the first time in the history of this benchmarking, all states of Australia were given a red-light warning in January for being above the notional NRSS targets. Only the nation’s territories, the NT and ACT, recorded amber light codes for being ahead of the notional target, but still in need of greater improvement rates to achieve the 2020 goal. View the latest Benchmarking Report
Further, recent AAA analysis of the progress of the strategy found that only four of its 33 safety performance indicators were being met. Alarmingly, some elements of the NRSS were not able to be assessed because the data was not collected.
The AAA called on the Government to urgently review the progress of the NRSS. View the AAA submission to the 2018 Government inquiry here.
Vehicles built in the past five to 10 years are much safer than previously released models. ANCAP research has found that vehicles built before the year 2000 represent just 20 per cent of the fleet but are involved in nearly one-third of fatal crashes.
AAA research has shown that lowering the average age of Australia’s light vehicle fleet by one year would save up to 1,377 lives and create a $19.7 billion benefit in trauma and emission reductions over a 20-year period.
One of the ways we can help to save lives is to upgrade our roads to make them safer. With the right investment, even the worst stretches of road can be made significantly safer. Locating the riskiest stretches of roads and identifying the most appropriate upgrades is an important first step.
Australia’s motoring clubs conduct the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP), which has evaluated the safety of highways in the National Land Transport Network.
AAA analysis shows that a national investment of $4.7 billion would prevent 36,000 serious injuries and deaths on our highways over a 20-year period. It would also effectively return $16.4 billion in terms of crash prevention and reduced social and economic costs of associated road trauma. Such an investment would return $3.50 to the economy for every dollar spent.
The AAA is calling for a process that links federal infrastructure grants and state compliance with National Road Safety Strategy obligations to ensure that states and territories are accountable for agreed road safety targets.
The Government program, Keys2drive, has been administered by the AAA since 2008 and has so far delivered a single free lesson to more than 250,000 learner drivers. The program aims to contribute to road safety by educating learner drivers and their supervising drivers. It helps learners become more aware of the road safety implications of being a newly licensed P Plate driver and assists supervisors in becoming better informed and more confident in their roles.
If you’re a learner driver you can contact Keys2drive for a free driving lesson. You can check to see if you’re eligible and to register on the Keys2drive website.