Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Senator Susan McDonald, has joined a push by the Australian Automobile Association for urgent federal action on identifying the causes of bad crashes in light of shocking statistics that show higher risks for non-metropolitan drivers.

Senator McDonald said AAA analysis in Queensland showed regional drivers were dying at three times the rate of metropolitan drivers, while in WA the regional driver death rate was nearly 20 times the city rate.

Nationwide, regional drivers are dying about five times the rate of city drivers.

Senator McDonald added that a 2022 RACQ analysis showed 17 regional Queensland roads – including seven in North Queensland – were considered “high to medium” risk of serious injury and death.

She slammed the Queensland Labor Government for allowing its road maintenance program to fall about $6 billion behind schedule.

Senator McDonald called for state-based crash-cause data – including if road conditions are factors – to be collated and shared nationally so federal road funding could be better targeted at regional Australia.

“Road fatalities and injuries in regional Australia are over-represented, and when you look at the state of regional roads, there is strong evidence road conditions are a contributing factor to this death rate disparity,” she said.

“The Federal Infrastructure Minister should implement a uniform national crash data system – including road conditions as a causative factor.

“Catherine King called for it in Opposition, and now is the time to act by ensuring the next Federal Budget allocates sufficient funding for this system and for upgrading, sealing and repairing regional roads.”

According to the AAA, the 2022 metropolitan-to-regional road death rates per 100,000 people were: QLD 3.06/10.24; NSW 1.67/9.32; VIC 2.07/9.11; SA 1.79/9.82; WA 2.84/18.7; TAS n/a; NT n/a; ACT n/a; AUSTRALIA-WIDE 2.24/10.6.

The AAA reports that the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30 was agreed by all Australian governments in 2021, and includes the following 2030 targets:
• Fatalities reduced by 50%
• Zero deaths of children 7 years and under
• Serious injuries reduced by 30%
• Zero deaths in city CBD areas
• Zero deaths on all national highways and on high-speed roads covering 80% of the network.

However, the AAA states that the Federal Government is unable to measure/track the bottom three of these five targets due to a lack of data availability.

The AAA adds: “In 2023, Australia is unable to quantify the extent of road trauma, or the effectiveness of interventions being deployed to reduce it.

Despite state governments for many years making public commitments to report data regarding serious injuries; road quality; fatality crash data; and enforcement information, the above remain unavailable.”