Prime Mover Magazine

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Warren Clark

Road Deaths: Governance Review a good start

March 2019

NatRoad has praised the Government for launching a review of who should be responsible for road safety in Australia.

The terms of reference for the review into road safety governance were recently released by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

The review will examine existing road safety arrangements in all jurisdictions including roles and responsibilities within and across local, state, territory and federal government.

The Review will examine whether Australia has the appropriate governance arrangements in place to deliver the commitments made by governments to mainstream road safety in line with the Safe System Approach of working towards safe roads, safe vehicles, safe people and safe speeds.

The Review will also identify how the Australian Government can work in partnership with state, territory and local governments to bring down the number of road deaths and serious injuries.

The path to a better road safety outcome is paved by evidence-based research and we need to know a lot more about the causes of heavy vehicle fatal crashes so that effective policies for a better outcome that saves lives can be introduced.

Government agencies must make a commitment to the more effective collection of and easier access to information provided by accident investigations.

At the same time, greater scrutiny of the causes of those accidents is needed.

The heavy vehicle industry is expanding in line with the expansion of Australia’s freight task. Road transport is the primary mode of transport for non-bulk freight in Australia.

Yet despite this expansion, data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows that, over the decade to 2016, national rates of fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles per registration fell substantially.

For articulated truck fatal crashes, the reduction was 50 per cent, for heavy rigid truck fatal crashes the reduction was 11.9 per cent. 

This improvement must continue and better planning and policy formulation must be a priority for government.

A government agency should be given power to promptly and fully investigate serious truck accidents and to share the results and recommendations publicly so that all industry participants can take the appropriate action to reduce the road toll. That role should also encompass better research on trends and causal factors.
Currently, both data and research are inadequate to formulate benchmarks.  That must change and a government agency that is created or re-structured must take on that task.

NatRoad has a deep commitment to improving road safety.  Reducing road deaths should be a goal which the community embraces and which Government endorses and promotes. This review is a good start to that process so that leadership comes from a government agency that only has road safety improvement as a primary goal.

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