Four Australian states and territories are likely to miss the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) target by the end of 2020, with three more dangerously close to falling short – and only one on track to achieve it.
Signed into action by state and federal governments in 2011, the NRSS aims to reduce road deaths and injuries by 30 per cent through the decade to 2020.
But following a 4.7 per cent rise in the national road toll in 2019 (from 1135 in 2018 to 1188 last year), the nation's peak motoring body, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), has warned failure is imminent.
According to the AAA's latest 'Benchmarking The Performance of the National Road Safety Strategy' report, Australia has achieved a 16.7 per cent reduction in road toll over the life so far of the NRSS.
As of the end of 2019, Australia is still 13.3 per cent away from reaching its target, representing 190 lives.
"The start of 2020 was supposed to be a time when Australia was counting down the months towards achieving the goal of a 30 per cent reduction in road deaths and serious injuries over the past decade," AAA Managing Director Michael Bradley said.
"However instead of marking an achievement, we start this year with the release of the final road toll for 2019 that confirms 1,188 people lost their lives.
"These figures do not represent glitches or anomalies: they are human lives and they represent failure."
In particular, the AAA highlighted "horrific spikes" in both Victoria and South Australia's state road tolls, with year-on-year increases of 25.8 per cent and 42.5 per cent respectively.
In fact, only the ACT is on track to meet or exceed the NRSS target by the end of the year, meaning its reduction in road crash fatalities is equal to or greater than the rate required to achieve NRSS target.
Meanwhile, Queensland, Tasmania and Northern Territory have all been marked as "amber" states by the AAA, meaning they are currently ahead of the notional target but require a faster rate of improvement to achieve the NRSS target by 2020's end.
New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia are all "red" states, with road crash fatalities above the NRSS target.
As a result, Australia as a whole is not on track to achieve either the required reductions in fatalities or the targeted reductions in serious injuries stipulated in the NRSS.
Mr Bradley acknowledged the NRSS had its shortcomings when it came to compliance mechanisms and said next year's updated NRSS would need a greater focus on measurement and accountability.
"In 2020 state and federal ministers will work together to set the next National Road Safety Strategy to take effect from next year," he said.
"In going about that task, they need to seriously consider the decade of policy and leadership failures that make it almost inevitable that the road safety targets set in the current National Road Safety Strategy will not be met by the end of this year; with some still not even measured."
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