Remote roads upgrades pilot good first step

Australia’s peak motoring body said the $150 million announced today for a remote roads upgrade pilot program is an important initiative and hopefully a sign the shortcomings of the Draft National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030, released in February, are being corrected.

Australian regional drivers are today five times more likely to die on the road than their metropolitan counterparts.

COVID travel pattern changes have seen a 1 per cent decrease in urban road deaths in the 12 months to September 30 but regional road deaths have increased seven per cent over the same period.

Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Managing Director Michael Bradley said despite accounting for just 28 per cent of Australia’s population, the regions now account for 66 per cent of Australian road deaths.

“Given these figures, the AAA was surprised and concerned the Draft National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 said not all regional roads should expect to be improved throughout the decade to 2030,” he said.

“COVID is causing sustained regional population growth, so the Federal Government is right to focus upon infrastructure spending that will save lives; stimulate regional jobs; and ensure safer regional tourism.

“The Government should be congratulated for committing new funding to regional road treatments, which needs to remain a significant focus of efforts to reduce Australia’s worsening road toll.

“This is a welcome first step, but much more needs to be done, particularly in the area of road safety data collection and reporting.

“The AAA notes the Government can provide daily, harmonised, national data on COVID infections, hospitalisations, deaths, and vaccination performance, and yet its most up to date road trauma publication contains inconsistent crash scenario data from 2019, and hospitalisation data from 2018.

“If we are to compare or improve performance across jurisdictions and develop evidence-based interventions, then good performance data is critical. The Draft National Road Safety Strategy being considered by Government does not address this glaring problem.

“Commonwealth road funding such as that announced today, should be given to state and local governments on the condition they provide timely and consistent road safety data.

“When the Commonwealth assists the states with education and health funding, it is right to expect timely, nationally consistent data provided on education standards and surgery wait times.

“The AAA looks forward to understanding the obligations put upon recipients of the $150 million announced today and hopes that when finalised, Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy brings transport funding into line with the norms of the education and health sectors.”

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