Australia’s state-based motoring clubs, represented by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), have strongly criticized the government’s failure to effectively reduce road trauma.
The AAA, which includes clubs such as NRMA, RACV, and RACQ, questioned its commitment to addressing road safety issues.
The current National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 (NRSS), endorsed by state and territory transport ministers and the Federal Government, aims to halve road deaths, and reduce serious injuries by 30% by the end of the decade. It also sets targets of zero deaths for children under 7, zero deaths in city CBD areas, and zero deaths on all national highways by 2030.
However, the AAA’s assessment reveals a bleak start to the decade-long strategy. The road toll in 2022 was higher than the previous year, and the year-to-date road toll for 2023 has risen further. In the 12 months leading up to March 31, 2023, there were 1,204 deaths on Australian roads, marking a 5.9% increase. The annual fatality rate per 100,000 population also grew by 4.2%.
Apart from New South Wales, every state and territory fell short of the agreed road safety targets. The AAA’s modeling indicates that the national road toll is currently 19% higher than the projected reduction needed to meet the targets, resulting in 193 excess deaths.
One significant concern for the AAA is the lack of a national data system that can accurately quantify national serious injuries. The data is currently held by individual state governments and is not harmonized into national figures, unlike the top-level road toll statistics.
AAA Managing Director Michael Bradley asserts that crucial information regarding crash causes, serious injuries, road quality, and details of those involved in accidents is still unavailable at the national level.
This lack of comprehensive data impedes the measurement of national serious injuries and hinders understanding of deaths in CBD areas and on national highways, which collectively account for 80% of travel across the transportation network.
To address this issue, the AAA calls for a reform in which the Federal Government mandates states to provide data relevant to NRSS targets as a prerequisite for receiving Commonwealth funding for roads.
“The AAA strongly endorses these trauma reduction targets, but governments must report the data needed to measure progress and prevent future trauma,” he said.
“Road deaths have increased over the past five years, and a lack of road trauma data reporting makes it difficult to understand the reasons for this trend and to identify the measures needed to prevent them.
“The unwillingness of governments to collect or report data needed to measure targets undermines the Strategy’s credibility and inhibits an evidence-based response to Australia’s worsening road safety performance.”
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