Federal Government must flex its muscles to drive improved road safety outcomes
The Reviving Road Safety Strategy released by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) this week makes a compelling case for stronger Federal leadership to help turn around Australia’s road toll.
Endorsed by 23 key stakeholder groups including Roads Australia, the Strategy proffers several high-impact policy measures that can be readily adopted to reboot Australia’s national approach to road safety. These include:
- Develop a National Road Safety Data Hub within the Office of Road Safety. This would coordinate and analyse the collection of road infrastructure safety data to help develop future policy and investments.
- Link infrastructure funding to road safety outcomes, and use incentive payments, to ensure road funding proposals are tied to safety standards.
- Encourage the uptake of safer vehicles and work towards targets to lower the average age of Australia’s vehicle fleet.
- Ensure the new Office of Road Safety has genuine authority to oversee the development and progress of the next National Road Safety Strategy, which will take effect from 2021.
Roads Australia President David Stuart-Watt has urged the Federal Government to take heed of the Strategy and ‘flex more of its muscle’ to influence road safety outcomes.
“The initiatives outlined in this report seek to strengthen the Commonwealth’s role and commitment in areas where it has the power to make a real difference,” he said.
“The establishment of the Office last year was a welcome and positive move by the Government.
“The Reviving Road Safety Strategy outlines a very clear direction for the Office, not just around data collection and analysis but in driving the development and implementation of the next National Road Safety Strategy.
“But to achieve these outcomes, it needs to be adequately resourced and funded into the future.”
Mr Stuart-Watt said the next National Road Safety Strategy also represented a significant opportunity to improve safety outcomes for roadworkers.
“For many Australians the road is their place of work, and in the midst of the current road construction boom we need to be focussed more than ever on minimising the risks they face,” he said.
“Roads Australia had the opportunity of making this point at this month’s Key Road Safety Stakeholder Roundtable convened by the Deputy Prime Minister, and we will continue to work closely with the Government and its relevant agencies to ensure the post-2020 National Road Safety Strategy includes a strong focus on roadworker safety.”
Projects added to Infrastructure Priority List
Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A, three sections of the Bruce Highway in Queensland, and a new four-lane bridge at Nowra on the NSW South Coast have all been added to the Infrastructure Priority List this month after the business cases were approved by Infrastructure Australia.
The Infrastructure Priority List provides governments at all levels with a prioritised list of nationally-significant investment opportunities for the near, medium and longer term. Inclusion on the Priority List shows that a proposal has undergone a rigorous business case assessment and has been proven to have significant benefits for the community.
The new Priority Projects are:
The updated Infrastructure Priority List is available here.
Driverless cars 'not necessarily a force for good', says ITLS
A new report from the University of Sydney’s Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) warns that governments must act now to prevent runaway urban sprawl and "intolerable" levels of road congestion brought about by new disruptive technologies in the transport sector.
A list of recommendations in the report urges governments to make regulatory changes allowing incumbent bus operators the flexibility to offer both fixed-route and on-demand transport services and to introduce a new user-pays road charging system.
The Moving People in the Future report has been produced in cooperation with Australia's peak industry body, the Bus Industry Confederation. It includes a list of recommendations urging governments to make regulatory changes to allow incumbent bus operators the flexibility to offer both fixed-route and on-demand transport services, and to introduce a new user-pays road charging system.
In the report, ITLS researchers predict one of the fastest, deepest and most consequential disruptions of transportation in history with a significant increase over the next two decades in the number of electric and autonomous vehicles on the road.
They also predict autonomous vehicles will add another layer to fixed-route public transport services, with mobility as a service (Maas) opportunities likely to be exploited by small localised operators offering on-demand services to a streamlined set of thriving, high-capacity bus and rail arterials.
However, the researchers add a note of caution, saying "the inevitable rise of electric and autonomous vehicles may not necessarily be a force for good if they lead to greater congestion and urban sprawl."
"Simple economics suggests that when cars are more affordable, they will also be more attractive to use," added ITLS Director Professor David Hensher. "We can expect a notable increase in car kilometres travelled leading to a significant increase in congestion with its corresponding impact on productivity, the economy and stress levels."
ITLS has recommended that governments adopt radical road pricing reform which ensures that "those who benefit pay an efficient charge for using the roads."
"Our preferred option is a five-cent per kilometre levy in capital cities during the weekday peak periods in return for removal of part of the registration fees so that the majority of car drivers are not worse off financially and actually save travel time," said Professor Hensher.
A recent survey by the ITLS found a levy system would encourage up to 70 per cent of drivers to move their travel to off-peak.