In 2011, all Australian governments committed to reducing the road death toll. The Australian Automobile Association’s (AAA) Benchmarking of the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) has tracked progress against the NRSS target of reducing road deaths by at least 30 per cent by 2020.
For the first time in the history of this benchmarking, all states of Australia have been given a red-light warning for being above the national NRSS targets.
Only the nation’s territories, the NT and ACT, recorded amber light codes for being ahead of the target, but still need a greater improvement rate to achieve the 2020 goal.
In December 2017, the nation recorded its worst month of road fatalities in six years. Road deaths during the month numbered 129, the highest since November 2011 when 134 people died. There were 339 road deaths recorded in the December quarter, compared to 324 in the September quarter, representing an increase of 4.6 per cent.
There was a rise in passenger deaths over the 2017 calendar year, however it is the only road user category to achieve a green light under the NRSS targets. All other categories of road users, such as drivers and cyclists were over the target. There was a 31 per cent increase in fatalities of cyclists during the year.
The overall road toll for the 2017 calendar year was 1,225 people. The figure represents a 5.3 per cent decrease in fatalities compared to the previous year. However, the figures exceeded the notional 2017 target by 99 lost lives. When assessed by state, the deaths per 100,000 population was highest in the Northern Territory and lowest in Victoria (excluding the ACT).
The results of this benchmark report indicate it is increasingly unlikely that Australia will achieve the NRSS target. A significant increase in Commonwealth funding and leadership is required to improve this outlook. The AAA has urged the government to adopt the recommendations made in its National Road Safety Platform to get the strategy back on track.
However, we as drivers and road users can increase our awareness and drive safely to help reduce these statistics. Road deaths not only impact the person that has died; it is a lifelong impact on the families, emergency services and the wider community. We talk with people who have lost loved ones, and we too have lost loved ones, and the impact of one error or a reckless driver will remain with these people the rest of their lives. It is the time to act to increase road safety and drive carefully. The rude behaviour and thoughtless, unskilled driving we witness everyday must stop if we are serious about keeping our loved ones alive and enjoying this life. The choice is yours, because we need to ask who is next – YOUR child, YOUR parent, YOUR friend or partner. It is everyone’s responsibility to act. Driving is a privilege not a right.