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.”

Motoring Clubs Launch ‘My Money. My Transport’ Election Campaign

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has launched a nationwide campaign that lets voters communicate directly with their federal election candidates on priority road and transport issues.

The AAA says the ‘My Money. My Transport’ campaign seeks to enlist voters to hold all political candidates to account and ensure road and public transport users secure a fair share of funding for safer roads, expanded and more affordable public transport options, and policies to keep costs down for motorists.

AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said when it came to lobbying political candidates, motorists were one of the few groups that brought their own money to the table.

“Last week’s budget confirmed that no matter who wins the May election, the federal government is planning on collecting nearly $56 billion over the next four years from fuel excise alone. That means this year, the average household will pay $1288 in fuel excise,” said Bradley. “Yet transport costs are rising at twice the rate of inflation. Our roads have never been more congested and about 100 people die on Australian roads every month.

“That’s why the AAA wants people to directly engage with their candidates during the campaign about how and where they want their money invested in transport. Through the “My Money. My Transport” campaign, voters can fill out a survey and tell their candidates of their local priority issues.”

The “My Money. My Transport” campaign is hosted on the websites of the AAA’s state and territory clubs, including the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT.

“Through these clubs, the AAA represents about eight million members across Australia,” Bradley said.

The AAA and its member clubs are calling on all political parties contesting the federal election to commit to:

  1. Developing federal leadership in making Australian roads safer
  2. Developing a “land transport white paper” to address the challenges of the future
  3. Investing in priority transport projects in every state and territory
  4. Reforming transport funding so it is fairer for motorists and provides sustainable government revenue
  5. Introducing real-world driving emissions testing to give more accurate information about fuel use
  6. Eliminating unfair car taxes that discourage upgrading to newer, safer and cleaner cars.

US EPA Report A Warning For Australia

Australia’s peak motoring body calls upon the Australian Government to closely examine the factors which led the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to overnight declare current US greenhouse gas emission standards for light vehicles too stringent and in need of amendment.

The EPA Determination said the 2012 introduction of strict CO2 emission standards has resulted in significant price rises for new vehicles and related negative effects for consumers, including for road safety.

The Report says vehicle manufacturers are confronted with many challenges from the strict CO2 emission standards:

“…due to feasibility and practicability, raises potential concerns related to vehicle safety, and results in significant costs to consumers, especially low-income consumers.”

The Determination confirms the need for the Australian Government to ensure vehicle emission standards currently being developed are realistic and achievable.

AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said: “This report is a timely reminder of the need to set sensible and achievable CO2 emissions limits for Australian vehicles.

“With the Government due to release new emission standards shortly, it is important it fully consider the factors that led to America setting unachievable targets and the various impacts this has had upon motorists.

“The AAA supports the introduction of a CO2 standard for Australian new light vehicles that is appropriate to Australia’s fleet and requirements, preserves vehicle choice, and delivers credible environmental benefit.”

The EPA determination points to many perverse policy outcomes due to vehicle manufacturers being forced to increase vehicle prices, such as households being unable to purchase new, lower emission vehicles, instead keeping their older, higher emitting vehicles, longer.

The EPA Determination is here: