Rising cost of national road safety failures becoming clearer

Australia's peak motoring body says new data showing road deaths rose six per cent in the past 12 months makes clear Australia can't meet agreed road trauma reduction targets with its current approach.

The AAA is again calling on the Commonwealth to urgently table a coherent plan capable of addressing the worsening numbers, which show 1,196 people were killed on Australia's roads in the 12 months to 31 October 2022: a 6% annual increase at a time when the Commonwealth's National Road Safety Strategy is to purportedly halve road deaths in the decade to 2030.

Agreed by Commonwealth and state transport ministers in 2021, Australia's National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30 aims to halve road deaths and reduce serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2030, despite the most recent national injury data being collected in 2018-19.

AAA Managing Director Michael Bradley said: "Our road toll is going in the wrong direction and people should be questioning our current approach to trauma reduction.

"There is an urgent need for the Commonwealth to declare the changes it will make, as our National Road Safety Strategy is not credible when one of its two key objectives is to reduce the incidence of a metric which is neither measured nor reported."

The National Road Safety Action Plan 2021-25 drafted by the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure was rejected by commonwealth and state ministers in February 2022 due to a lack of stakeholder support. Nine months later, no update has been released and the Plan is now two years overdue.

Mr Bradley said: "Reviews of Australia's road safety performance continue to identify the leading cause of Australia's failure to achieve road trauma reduction targets as being the Commonwealth's lack of leadership and coordination.

"It is not acceptable that in 2022, we have no national data on the quality of our road network, the types of road crashes occurring, the factors causing them, the enforcement of road rules, or their relative effectiveness, when road trauma continues to hospitalise 100 Australians daily and cost the economy $30 billion annually.

"Commonwealth road safety data collation and reporting must be an urgent priority if road death and injury targets are to be met.

"The Commonwealth's ongoing failure to facilitate the timely, consistent, and open reporting of national safety data prevents Australia from quantifying its road trauma problem, developing evidence-based responses, or evaluating their effectiveness."

The AAA is one of many safety advocates to call for the Commonwealth to leverage the significant land transport infrastructure funding it provides states and territories to incentivise the provision of priority road safety data as a condition of funding.

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