RACV has called for State and Federal Government inquiries into Victoria’s rapidly growing road toll.
RACV General Manager Public Policy, Brian Negus said that after an appalling year for road deaths in 2016, RACV finds it hugely disappointing that 2017 has started on an even worse note.
There have been 14 fatalities to date this year, compared with eleven at the same time last year and this is on top of a 16 per cent jump in the annual road toll in 2016. Last year 292 people lost their lives and many more were seriously injured.
“We need to understand why 40 years of improvement is being so dramatically reversed, so quickly,” Mr Negus said.
The latest Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Benchmarking the performance of the National Road Sfety Strategy report shows that no real progress has been made on the five-year-old Federal and State strategies to reduce the road toll by 30 per cent.
“The level of death, injury, and consequent community cost should not be accepted on our roads. The community needs to understand why our national road safety strategy has stalled. It may be that current programs are wrongly targeted or that they need more funding,” Mr Negus said.
RACV wants the State and Federal Governments to commit to a four-year program of safety upgrades, to eliminate all sections of Victoria’s major rural highways that have a 1 or 2-star rating in the Australian Road Assessment Program. Previous RACV research showed that eliminating 1 and 2-star sections of major highways would cost $600 million, saving an estimated 2,800 people from serious injury or death over the next 20 years.
“In 2017, RACV will be pushing even harder to make sure increased funding is made available for Victoria’s rural roads, to ensure they receive crucial upgrades for road safety and also their long-term maintenance,” Mr Negus said.
Mr Negus said RACV would also continue to advocate for better safety systems in vehicles.
“Crash avoidance and warning systems dramatically reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes. These technologies should be available in all new cars and governments need to mandate the fitting of these life-saving devices,” he said.
RACV would like to see state and federal governments work together to provide incentives to purchase safer cars. Discounted registration for five-star vehicles, especially for younger drivers would be a great start.
RACV urged all road users to ensure they drive or ride safely, and to not get distracted by mobile phones.
Mr Negus urged both the Federal and State Government to focus further attention on road safety as they prepare their budgets for the next three to four years.
“Whilst road safety is a key responsibility for individuals, governments must step up and find ways to increase funding for safer roads and to provide incentives for vehicle safety programs.”