The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has called on the Turnbull Government to dig deep and invest $150,000 into the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS), launched in 2011 to help combat the country’s road toll.
The NRSS was developed with the aim of cutting Australia’s road toll by “at least” 30 per cent, by 2020. In 2011, there were 1291 fatalities on the nation’s roads, while the year to September 2016 showed 1273 deaths.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the number of vehicles registered for Australian roads has also grown in that time, from around 16.3 million in 2011 to 18.4 million at the start of 2016.
That increase in motor vehicles does not excuse the lack of movement on the NRSS program’s mandate, according to the AAA, which claims that the strategy “is running around four years behind in some states”.
In a report titled Benchmarking the Performance of the National Road Safety Strategy, the AAA said that the NRSS is years behind in achieving “the steady reduction” needed to reach its target.
An investment of around $150,000 from the federal government would, according to the AAA and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, allow for a national database of where crashes occur and of their severity.
“There is no national measure of road trauma in Australia. We think around 625 Australians are seriously injured each week but without proper national data, it is impossible to know for sure. It is also not possible to know if the trend is up or down,” AAA chief executive, Michael Bradley, said.
“We are hopeful this funding will soon be forthcoming, but with the death toll continuing to climb, this funding cannot come soon enough.”
In 2014, a review of the NRSS found that progress in reducing serious injury numbers “was difficult to determine”, due to the lack of reliable and nationally consistent data on non-fatal crashes.
A study by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons shows that the cost of road trauma – including fatalities, injuries, and the myriad services needed – is around $27 billion each year, roughly 18 per cent of health spending.
On average, four people die each day on Australian roads and around 90 people are seriously injured.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “land transport crashes” are the number one killer of children under 14, the second largest killer of people aged 15 to 24, and the third largest killer of people aged 25 to 44.