President’s Column: 3 May 2019

Some 52% of all casualty crashes and 40% of all road deaths occur on local government roads. Around 1,200 people die in crashes on Australia’s roads each year, while 35,000 people are injured and all of us in Local Government have a responsibility to do what we can, as owners and managers of 75% of the country’s roads by length, to reduce this unacceptable toll.

Unless something changes around road safety, over the next 10 years at least 360,000 people will be hospitalised – the equivalent of the population of the Sunshine Coast or Wollongong and over 12,000 people will be killed – roughly the population of Mudgee, Esperance or Colac.

National Road Safety Week, which runs from May 6-12, is a chance for us to show leadership and to work together to save lives and reduce injuries.

The Australian Local Government Association is proud to be a partner with Peter Frazer, Founder of National Road Safety Week and President of the Safer Australian Highways and Roads (SARAH) Group, and dozens of local councils, motoring organisations, and emergency services agencies to raise awareness about a matter that affects every local government area.

This year’s theme is ‘lead the way: drive so others survive’. Among the actions all motorists can take are to not drive while distracted, turn on your headlights, and give emergency service and roadside assistance workers plenty of space when you pass. You can also wear a yellow ribbon or add one to your social media accounts, and take the online pledge to be a safe driver.

Local councils look after 75% of the country’s roads, but we struggle to do this with only 3.6% of the country’s total tax revenue. We’re determined to repair this federal funding imbalance, and that’s why our ongoing Fairer Share campaign asks the major parties to restore the Financial Assistance Grants to at least 1 percent of Commonwealth revenue.

Doing so would allow councils to repair known blackspots and other traffic hazards, making our roads and communities safer.

Make sure you play your role in advocating for a fairer share of Australia’s taxes being made available in your community to improve road safety. Use ALGA’s election kit and customise it to your local issues to campaign both locally and nationally.

Many councils are already doing good work and some examples of specific safety initiatives are highlighted in a separate story in this edition of ALGA News.

And there is some targeted support from the Australian Government on help for councils to improve road maintenance and management, including funding announced in the recent Budget for the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) – the National Transport Research Organisation – to update and revise guides for councils on best practice in a number of areas.

Councils are invited to consider nominating to host workshops by ARRB on the development of those best practice guides for road maintenance which will cover sealed and unsealed roads, bridge structure assessments, and new and recycled materials. If you’d like to nominate your council to host a session, please contact the ARRB’s project leader, Samantha Taylor, samantha.taylor@arrb.com.au.

Wishing you safe journeys on Australia’s roads this week.

Mayor David O’Loughlin
President, ALGA