AAA: Australia Needs Smart Policies To Revive Road Safety

Twenty-three national and state organisations have come together to develop the new Reviving Road Safety policy priorities document. The document, released by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), calls on the federal government to link infrastructure funding to road safety outcomes to help alleviate deaths on Australian roads.

The Reviving Road Safety document also seeks a commitment that the new Office of Road Safety be charged with data collection and coordination. The AAA says that Australia still doesn’t know how many serious injuries are caused by road crashes each year or how many crashes occur in which speed may be a factor.

The AAA’s Managing Director, Michael Bradley, said 1203 people died on Australian roads in the last year – higher than the equivalent period five years ago.

“This is a national crisis – we need a new approach to road safety from the federal government,” said Bradley. “Eight years after all levels of government agreed to set 33 individual safety performance indicators – half of these KPIs are not on track, while a further quarter, including the number of serious injuries, are still not being measured.”

Bradley said the AAA and its seven member clubs – the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and the AANT – received input from another 15 organisations to develop key steps to revive road safety action in Australia. Additionally, the AAA sought the input of the government appointed co-chairs of the inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy – Associate Professor Jeremy Wooley and Dr. John Crozier.

“Reviving Road Safety is not a detailed blueprint on everything the government must be doing to help reduce road trauma,” said Bradley. “Instead, it advocates the priority steps that the government can take at the beginning of its new term. Critically for government, this platform is not asking for great sums of additional dollars. Instead, we have focused on better and largely cost-neutral policies aimed at optimising existing investment to maximise better road safety outcomes and save lives.”

The document advocates several policy measures, which include developing a national road safety data hub within the Office of Road Safety, linking infrastructure funding to road safety outcomes, encouraging the uptake of safer vehicles, and ensuring the new Office of Road Safety has genuine authority to oversee development and progress of the next National Road Safety Strategy.

The AAA says it also launched its programme, which offers funding of up to $1 million per research project into road safety, to help ensure the government has access to the best road safety research.

“Our new programme recognises that road safety is a shared responsibility,” said Bradley. “Projects that examine fatigued driving will be considered for the inaugural round of funding.”

The document follows last month’s release of the federal government’s own Review of National Road Safety Governance Arrangements, which found that “the Australian government had not provided sufficiently strong leadership, coordination or advocacy on road safety to drive national trauma reductions”.

“We congratulate the government for recognising the depth of Australia’s road safety problem and for having the courage to commission a full and frank analysis of failings and actions,” said Bradley.

“That review’s findings prompted the AAA and our seven member clubs to reach out to 15 other organisations for input into Reviving Road Safety to put together key policies for government to prioritise.”