Road safety focus of national inquiry
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.