Damning report blames government for rising road toll

Moving Well | Sue Hewitt | Image: Getty | Posted on 19 August 2019

Political inaction to blame for failure to meet National Road Safety Strategy targets.

RACV has backed a damning report blaming political inaction on the nation’s failure to meet the National Road Safety Strategy targets to save lives.

The Australian Automobile Association’s latest report benchmarking the strategy reveals that half the targets set will not be met before the strategy expires next year.

The strategy, which state and federal governments agreed to a decade ago, aimed to cut the national road toll by a third, but fatalities have reduced by just 10 per cent, according to the peak motoring body.

Car smashed in to a tree to the side of the road

RACV’s general manager of public policy and corporate affairs, Bryce Prosser, says the AAA’s results “come as no surprise to RACV, with lives lost on Victorian roads up 52 per cent to date when compared to this time last year”.

“Crashes on our roads also mean injuries, with approximately 30 people injured for every life lost,” he says.

Bryce says these injuries – such as paralysis, brain injuries, amputations or loss of sight – are often life-changing, causing a heavy burden on families, friends, communities, the health sector and social services. 

“Yet Australia still lacks a national system for measuring serious road crash injuries, despite the National Road Safety Strategy specifically targeting a 30 per cent reduction in serious injuries by 2020.” 

He says RACV encourages all road users to play their part in getting home safely by remaining vigilant on the roads. 

Driver distraction, impairment, fatigue, speed and not wearing seatbelts are some of the main causes behind the road fatalities and injuries, Bryce says.

The AAA says the national road toll is higher now than four years ago, with 1214 people losing their lives in the year ending 30 June, 2019. It says its benchmarking report shows “ongoing failure” to reduce the road toll.

“These reports should serve as a wake-up call for governments,” says AAA managing director Michael Bradley. “Their disjointed and disorganised approach to road safety is failing badly.” 

The strategy has 33 safety performance indicators but only nine are “on track”. Five are “not on track, 11 are “unlikely to be met” and eight have no means to be measured or have not been set targets.

 “The Commonwealth and COAG (Council of Australian Governments) must give the new Office of Road Safety a clear and meaningful role – with substantial resourcing,” Michael says.

“They must also develop a new National Road Safety Strategy for the next decade – one backed by real investment, leadership and accountability. Australia can’t afford another lost decade in road safety.”