According to Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, more than 1,200 road crash deaths occurred in 2017. Over the past decade, high-speed roads account for the largest proportion of fatal crashes. Half of the recorded road deaths result from head-on collisions or single vehicle run-off-road crashes. This statistic has not changed from 2012 to 2016. Additionally, at least 36,000 individuals are admitted to hospital for accident-related injuries such as brain trauma, paralysis and amputations. Every year, road crashes have cost the Australian economy more than $30 billion.
To date, federal, state and territory governments are working towards an agreed set of national objectives, goals and action plans to ensure that our roads are safer in the years to come. Private organisations, such as TranEx Group are helping as well, partnering with government departments in delivering traffic safety technology and supplies.
Implementing the National Road Safety Strategy
The National Road Safety Strategy illustrates key findings in local road safety management. According to the paper, many safety aspects have not received ample focus or allocated resources for changes or upgrades to be implemented. Flaws in accountability, funding and quality assurance are some of the challenges involved.
To ensure that reforms are set in place, the National Road Safety Action Plan was created. Some of the priority actions for 2018 to 2020 include the following:
The review of speed limits on high risk regional and remote roads, with consultation from the surrounding community. Compared to other countries, Australia has higher speed limits on its road network. Two-thirds of all road crash deaths occur in 100 km/h or higher zones in remote and regional areas. Based on research, reducing speed limits to 90 km/h may produce a 35 per cent reduction in fatal crashes and a 31 per cent decrease in serious injury crashes.
Minimising speed limits to 40 km/h or lower in pedestrian and cyclist areas. Pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable to collisions. The risk of death or serious injuries increases over impact speeds of 30 km/h. The safety plan aims to implement greater use of 30 km/h speed limits where appropriate to minimise, and eventually eliminate, the risk to vulnerable road users.
A higher number of point-to-point or mobile cameras to achieve safe travel on Australia’s road network. Installing more point-to-point and mobile cameras influence speed choices and give enforcers the ability to detect speeding over a greater distance, allowing for greater motorist compliance with speed limits.
Allocating infrastructure funding towards safety-focused initiatives. This includes upgrades to corridors and routes with the highest death and serious injury risks. Installing mass action treatments such as barriers, wide medians and audio-tactile line markings on these roads are crucial.
What’s next for road safety
After 2020, it is important for the national government to consider emerging technologies, and give increased attention to improving post-crash care. Once the safety plan is well-implemented and with compliance across the board, a minimised incidence of road accidents and injuries can be observed.