Road fatalities are a tragic occurrence for those involved, affecting drivers, passengers and their loved ones. There are a number of road safety strategies in place that aim to reduce the road toll across Australia, such as the independent ANCAP ratings to inform consumers on vehicle safety.
The Australian Government’s National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) is another such effort. Inaugurated in 2011, it aims to see a decrease of at least 30 per cent in national road fatalities by 2020.
Now the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) is weighing in with a state-by-state progress report on the NRSS, to see whether the country as a whole is on track to achieve its goals within the timeframe of the decade-long strategy.
Background on the NRSS
According to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, an average of four people are the victim of a fatal road crash each day, whilst 90 others sustain serious injuries.
The NRSS encompasses four focus areas to combat these figures: safe roads, speed, vehicles and people. In November 2014, the Transport and Infrastructure Council approved a new action plan for 2015-2017, to support what are hoped to be long-term improvements.
As part of the Action Plan, the government plans to prioritise what it classifies as high-risk roads, both rural and urban, with measures to address the main type of crash as well as identifying the most vulnerable road users. The plan will also look at the safety of high-traffic areas and mandatory safety features in the Australian car fleet.
Monitoring road user groups
As part of the AAA’s analysis, different road user groups came under the spotlight, helping to better understand the demographics of the national road toll.
As part of a traffic light ranking system, motor vehicle passengers were green-lit, demonstrating that the group’s involvement in road fatalities was showing positive progress overall.
Unfortunately, however, the two groups most vulnerable on our roads remain motorcyclists, and cyclists. Both in the ‘red zone’, demonstrating a trend that see them fall under the 2020 threshold.
How New South Wales is performing
According to the AAA’s report for the quarter ending June 2015, while the national road toll has increased over the past 12 months by 1.6 per cent, states such as New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Northern Territory have seen a state-wide reduction in road fatalities since the same time last year.
The AAA considers NSW to be on track for its role in the NRSS – with the state road toll down by 6.8 per cent since June 2014, the Association awarded it with a ‘green’ status.
However, chief executive for the AAA Michael Bradley believes that in spite of the spike in road fatalities over the recent quarter, the country as a whole is still on track to meet its target by 2020.
Mr Bradley notes in his opening statement of the AAA report that another concerning facet was the ambiguity around the way the NRSS intends to decrease the incidents of serious injuries, estimated to number over 32,500 annually.
“Australia’s state and territory governments have no common definition on what constitutes a serious injury,” states Mr Bradley. “Without any accurate data, there is no way to monitor the effect of safety initiatives on serious injuries.”
Like the definition of serious injury, the states also vary on the structure of the compulsory third party insurance schemes. Information on CTP insurance on a state by state basis is available on this website.