Governments failing on road safety, says AAA

Detailed analysis by Australia’s peak motoring body shows that nearly 90 percent of the targets in the 2011 National Road Safety Strategy will not be met.

This is because governments are failing to fulfill the commitments made, according to the analysis.

The findings are contained in the report Benchmarking the Performance of the National Road Safety Strategy by the Australian Automobile Association, which is the umbrella group for Australia’s state-based motoring associations.

Chief executive of the AAA, Michael Bradley, said that eight of the 33 indicators set out in the strategy are not even being measured or do not have agreed targets.

“This analysis is a damning indictment of those who have been responsible for the strategy’s implementation since 2011. It reflects a disjointed and disorganised approach to road safety in this country,” he said.

“Fewer than one in 10 KPIs are likely to be met. That, and the fact that a quarter of KPIs still aren’t even being measured, reinforces the widely held view that government does not take this problem seriously.

“We have just experienced the deadliest month on Australian roads since 2011. This should serve as a wake-up call to government that continued inaction is having devastating consequences.”

The analysis has been done as part of the AAA’s submission to the government’s recently announced inquiry into the strategy.

Signed by state and federal governments in 2011, the National Road Safety Strategy specifically aims to reduce death and injuries by 30 percent through the decade to 2020. It contains 33 individual safety performance indicators.

The AAA analysis shows only four of those 33 indicators are on track to be met. A further six have been classified as not on track, and 15 more have been deemed to be unlikely to be met.

Road deaths in NSW and across Australia have declined sharply in the last 40 years, because of a range of factors including compulsory seatbelts, better roads, safer cars, random breath testing for alcohol, and stronger enforcement mechanisms such as speed cameras.

By any measure, Australia has been very successful in reducing its road toll. The decline in absolute numbers is notable, and even more impressive is the reduction in fatalities per kilometre travelled. There are many more vehicles on Australian roads than there were 40 years ago. That metric is down by an extraordinary 80 per cent.

The AAA report compares data from regional, remote and metropolitan roads and displays the results in an easily understood traffic-light (red-amber-green) format. While most indicators show an improvement since 2011, this has slowed in recent years, with 2017 going backwards.

In no state or territory is the trend line of decline in road fatalities exceeding the target. In Tasmania and the ACT the six year trend is up, and in NSW it is even. In 2016 Australian driver deaths were down by 7 per cent, but passenger deaths were up by 13 per cent. Pedestrian deaths were down 12 per cent and motorcycle deaths were down 15 per cent, but cyclists’ deaths were up 31 per cent.

In 2016 Victoria has the lowest number of road deaths per 100,000 population, at 4.00. The AAA analysis shows that if this figure were to be achieved nationally, 253 lives would have been saved across the country.

“The results of this benchmark report indicate it is increasingly unlikely that Australia will achieve the NRSS target,” said Mr Bradley. “A significant increase in Commonwealth funding and leadership is required to improve this outlook.

“The AAA has urged the government to adopt the recommendations made in its National Road Safety Platform to get the strategy back on track.”

The report is available here.

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