The Commonwealth should boost funding for road safety, including the Black Spot Program, and work more closely with other governments to reduce road trauma.
In a report published last week, the Joint Select Committee on Road Safety – established in August 2019 to inquire into the steps that can be taken to reduce road accident rates – said the plateauing of improvements in accident statistics since 2015 indicated the need for reform.
“The need for systematic change was a view shared by stakeholder groups, the committee said in its Improving Road Safety in Australia report.
“In evidence, stakeholders advocated for a strategic, cohesive and consistent approach to road safety, and stressed the need for a clear strategy, federal, whole-of-government leadership and an appropriate level of investment.”
As well as increased funding for the Black Spot program, the report recommends that the percentage of program funding allocated to regional and remote areas be increased and that the federal government review funding conditions and site eligibility with a view to making the program more effective in proactively detecting and treating deficiencies in road infrastructure.
Several of the 22 recommendations involve the federal government working more closely with the states and territories and local government to:
- collect accurate data on the current condition and rate of change of Australian roads;
- ensure that funding avenues are identified that specifically support local councils to attract and retain the relevant skills and expertise required for the development of all aspects of road safety policy, infrastructure and maintenance; and
- review their procurement practices to ensure that the safety of vehicles is a key criterion in purchasing decisions.
The report also urges the Commonwealth to work with the states and territories to “develop a plan and timeline for the harmonisation of data, including definitions, relating to casualty crashes, road safety ratings, and speeding across the network – and for such data to be published regularly”.
It also wants the Commonwealth, working with states and territories, to ensure that funding is identified to “specifically support local councils to attract and retain the relevant skills and expertise required for the development of all aspects of road safety policy, infrastructure and maintenance”.