Federal Government accused of road toll ‘secrecy’ - SUV VEHICLE

Federal Government accused of road toll ‘secrecy’

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As the national road toll reaches a five-year high, Australia’s peak motoring body is calling for more transparency.

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the nation’s peak motoring body, has criticised the Federal Government’s lack of effort in urging state and territory bodies to share more insightful road toll data.

The AAA’s Managing Director, Michael Bradley, has called for federal and state governments to be more transparent in their findings to help identify ways to reduce the road toll.

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“State and territory governments collect the data needed to understand why road deaths are rising, but they are not reporting or sharing this information,” he said in a media statement.

“Data sharing would reveal which state’s road safety measures are the most effective, and the safety interventions that are the most needed.”

This comes as Australia’s road death toll is the highest it’s been in five years.

According to a February 2024 report from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), Australia has recorded 1286 road fatalities from February 2023 to February 2024, an almost 10 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The AAA is advocating for the Federal Government to “compel states to publish relevant data” via the National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects

The new deal – which is currently being negotiated amongst states and territories – will ‘dictate’ how the $50 billion in federal road funding will be allocated across all Australian states and territories over five years commencing August 2024.

According to BITRE data, there were 110 road fatalities recorded in February 2024 – 15.1 per cent higher than the average for February in the past five years.

New South Wales had the highest increase in road deaths at 39.7 per cent (up from 267 in 2023 to 373 in 2024) followed by South Australia at 30.1 per cent (83 to 108) and then Victoria at 11.9 per cent (252 to 282).

Meanwhile, the Australian Capital Territory experienced a notable decline in road fatalities of 82.4 per cent (down from 17 in 2023 to three in 2024), averaging a decrease in road deaths of 4.8 per cent over five years.

Tasmanian road deaths also declined by 39.2 per cent, as did Western Australia’s road toll, which fell by 10.6 per cent compared to the same period the year prior.

‘Any death is one too many’

In response to the AAA’s criticism, a Department of Infrastructure and Transport spokesperson told Drive the government was working towards a national reporting framework.

“Any death on our roads is one too many. That is why the Australian, state and territory governments are committed to Vision Zero – that is no deaths on Australia’s roads by 2050,” the spokesperson said.

“This includes a commitment by the Australian Government to develop a National Road Safety Data Collection and Reporting framework … the exchange of road safety data is expected to be finalised before the end of April 2024.”

As part of the department’s 2023–2024 budget, $976 million is “available for new infrastructure projects through the Road Safety Program“, the spokesperson said – with funds allocated to works on regional, remote, and urban roads as well as footpaths and cycleways.

A further $43.6 million is “committed” to the new National Road Safety Action Grants Program.

The new grant is said to provide “non-infrastructure funding”, with an emphasis on research and data, First Nations road safety, vulnerable road users, community education and awareness, as well as technology.

Australians are ‘deeply cynical’

According to a 2023 AAA poll, Australians are “deeply cynical about how politicians prioritise road project funding”, with 61 per cent of respondents believing governments have spent tax dollars on road work to increase their chances of re-election.

“Our polling shows Australians think this is a common sense approach that would not only save lives, but also enhance accountability by reducing [the] potential for pork-barrelling [using government funds to win votes],” the AAA’s Mr Bradley said.

“Publishing road safety data will enable Australians to see whether politicians spend their money on roads to save lives or to win votes in marginal electorates.”

As we approach the busy and typically risky Easter period on our roads, Drive is partnering with Nine.com.au to raise awareness about the availability and effectiveness of defensive driver training courses for young drivers. Follow all the updates on our Safer Driving hub and weigh in via our P-plater survey here.

The post Federal Government accused of road toll ‘secrecy’ appeared first on Drive.

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