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by David Zalstein

The CEO of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has welcomed views expressed in Federal Parliament on a renewed push for road safety in Australia.

During a speech made last night to the House of Representatives, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Regional Transport, Darren Chester, made clear his concerns that more needs to be done on the issue of road safety.

“I believe there is a need for greater national leadership, with a renewed focus on building safer roads, supporting the rollout of safer vehicles and promoting improved driver behaviour,” the Federal Member for Gippsland said.

“I fear we have become somewhat complacent and, if not accepting of, we seem resigned to the fact that people will always die and people will be seriously injured on our roads.

“That complacency and that sense of resignation needs to be reversed as a matter of urgency.”

Darren Chester MP

While noting the improvements in the road toll since 1982 (nearly 2900 deaths to 1300 deaths in 2012), Chester said a new wave of reform was needed with new energy and enthusiasm for the task of lowering the road toll required.

“The total annual cost of road trauma in ecomic terms is $27 billion, with 25 people dying and 600 people being serisouly injured each week in Australia.

“There is a compelling argument that it [road trauma] should be regarded as the highest-ranking public health issue facing our nation.”

ANCAP CEO Nicholas Clarke said in response that a move to a more holistic approach to road safety would be welcome.

“Road trauma affects all of us and is an enormous burden on our community. Reducing this burden should be a first order priority for governments, business and private consumers,” Clarke said.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

In an effort to reduce road trauma, Chester put forward a view to ban the importation of any vehicle sold in volume that does not achieve a minimum three- or four-star ANCAP safety rating and ensure international manufacturers provide new safety features in Australian-delivered product at an equal pace to other countries.

“It is worth noting that the federal government has a fleet-purchasing policy which mandates that all light passenger vehicles purchased by the Commonwealth must have a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

“Why de we allow lesser vehicles to be sold on the Australian market?”

“Right now, we have vehicles on sale in Australia that the federal government would not let any public servant drive but that we are allowing to be imported and driven on our roads.

“I think we can do better in that space as well.”

The ANCAP CEO responded to the point saying, “we already have cars on the market today that are not equipped with the same level of safety assist technology as that included in the same car in other markets.”

“In the period 2007-2011, there was a 21 per cent reduction in deaths on Australian roads – some of this reduction inevitably will be due to safer cars.”

“If we are to achieve another similar big reduction in road trauma then it is vital that Australia maintains pace with developments in new safety assist technology,” Clarke said.

What do you think of the plan?