How data can help reduce the road toll

Road safety


Posted November 14, 2023

RACV has joined forces with other state-based motoring clubs and the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) in the Data Saves Lives campaign, which calls on the Federal Government to make road funding contingent upon states and territories providing safety-related data to help save lives.

Rising road toll and lack of data reporting

In recent years, Australia has witnessed a concerning rise in its road toll, despite significant investments in road infrastructure. Over the past 12 months alone, road deaths have increased by 7.5 per cent across the country, with pedestrian and cyclist fatalities experiencing even more substantial spikes of 25 and 37 per cent, respectively. 

However, the lack of comprehensive data reporting hinders efforts to identify effective solutions to this crisis. This includes data such as information on crash causes, road quality and law enforcement data such as drunk and drugged driving, speeding and mobile phone use. 

While state and territory governments collect this data, they currently do not share it with each other, the federal government, independent experts, or the public. This means the best ways to address the causes can’t be identified, as no data is being reported. 

To address this issue, the Data Saves Lives campaign reasons that it’s crucial to release national road safety data. This data could then be used to assist with how road funding can best be allocated, providing the evidence necessary to ensure that taxpayer funds are allocated where they are most needed, ultimately saving lives. 

The need for transparent national data 

Currently, the Federal Government allocates $10 billion annually for road funding to the states and territories. However, unlike agreements for other sectors such as education, hospitals, and housing, there is no requirement for the states to validate their spending with data or evidence. The Data Saves Lives campaign believes data transparency should be a priority for road funding.

The ongoing negotiations for the new five-year National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects present a unique opportunity for meaningful road safety-related reform. By making federal road funding contingent upon the provision of safety-related data by the states, this agreement can pave the way for meaningful, data-driven approach to road safety and funding policy. 


Westgate bridge traffic

More safety-related data can inform policies to increase road safety. Image: Getty

The role of governments and motoring clubs in advocating for data transparency

RACV believes the safety of motorists must be the primary concern of all governments.

RACV is advocating for data-driven road funding, and new funding arrangements that would require the Victorian government to report on road quality and safety performance as a condition of receiving federal funding. 

With road deaths in Victoria increasing by 19 per cent in the past year alone, it is imperative to utilise the data that governments already possess to analyse crash causes, road conditions, and the effectiveness of policing in saving lives. 

Opportunity for reform 

The AAA’s Data Saves Lives campaign aligns with RACV's road safety initiatives, urging the Federal Government to leverage the National Partnership Agreement to make road funding contingent on the release of existing crash data. 

By embracing data transparency and evidence-based policy, Australia can make significant strides in reducing the road toll, coming together to ensure efficient allocation of resources, and prioritising the safety of all pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists on our roads.