Road safety fo­cus of na­tional in­quiry

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS -

In­creased fa­tal­i­ties over the past two years have prompted a na­tional in­quiry into road safety.

Mem­ber for Gipp­s­land and In­fra­struc­ture and Roads Min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester an­nounced the na­tional in­quiry on Fri­day, say­ing he was con­cerned peo­ple were be­com­ing too com­pla­cent about road safety.

Two of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing road safety ex­perts will as­sist the fed­eral govern­ment de­velop a blue­print to re­duce deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries on roads.

Terms of ref­er­ence re­quire the in­quiry to iden­tify the key fac­tors in­volved in the road crash death and se­ri­ous in­jury trends in­clud­ing re­cent in­creases in 2015 and 2016.

Mr Ch­ester said the fed­eral govern­ment had al­ready com­mis­sioned two re­search projects into mobile phone dis­trac­tion and drug driv­ing, which are be­lieved to be con­tribut­ing to se­ri­ous in­jury and death.

“No-one is ex­pect­ing a sin­gle so­lu­tion to re­duc­ing road trauma and we all need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for our ac­tions on our na­tion’s roads as we work to­wards a safer sys­tem.

“It’s about safer driv­ers, in safer ve­hi­cles, driv­ing on safer roads,” he said.

Mr Ch­ester has com­mis­sioned an in­quiry into im­prov­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the Na­tional Road Safety Strat­egy 2011-2020 amid fears that many in the com­mu­nity have be­come too com­pla­cent about road safety.

“I’m worried that we are too ac­cept­ing of the fact 1300 Aus­tralians will die on our roads and tens of thousands will be in­jured this year.

Mr Ch­ester said road trauma had an enor­mous so­cial im­pact and in eco­nomic terms, road in­jury cost an es­ti­mated $30 bil­lion per year.

“I don’t ac­cept that as a price we have to pay for a mod­ern trans­port sys­tem. The re-eval­u­a­tion of the ex­ist­ing strat­egy is about set­ting the na­tional agenda for years to come.

Af­ter decades of re­duc­tions in road trauma, Mr Ch­ester said there had been a spike in sev­eral states in re­cent years.

Mr Ch­ester said the in­quiry would as­sess cur­rent ac­tions and help find new ways to re­duce the num­ber of road fa­tal­i­ties and se­ri­ous in­juries.

Cen­tre for Au­to­mo­tive Safety Re­search di­rec­tor at Ade­laide Uni­ver­sity Jeremy Wool­ley and Royal Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Surgeons’ Trauma Com­mit­tee chair John Crozier will co-chair the in­quiry.

“Both are ex­perts in road safety and they will draw on their own knowl­edge and other pro­fes­sion­als who are work­ing across Aus­tralia to re­duce road trauma.

“Build­ing on our un­der­stand­ing of best prac­tice in road safety man­age­ment will as­sist pol­icy mak­ers, in­dus­try and our emer­gency ser­vices to ad­dress the chal­lenges we face, as well as iden­tify where we can work bet­ter to­gether,” he said.

Mr Ch­ester said the in­quiry com­ple­mented ex­ist­ing in­vest­ment in road safety by the govern­ment through the road blackspots, heavy ve­hi­cle safety ini­tia­tives, and in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment pro­gram.

The in­quiry will report back to the min­is­ter in early 2018.

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