Falling road toll a cause for cautious optimism
Australia’s national road toll fell for the second straight year in 2018, with NSW turning the corner on a three-year climb and Victoria recording its lowest number of deaths since records began.
The preliminary NSW road toll for 2018 was 356 – 33 fewer than 2017, and the first annual decrease since 2014.
Victoria recorded 214 lives lost – 45 less than 2017 and 29 fewer than the previous record low of 243 in 2013.
SA achieved a significant decrease (-19) to 81 fatalities, Queensland remained steady with 247 deaths, while WA (-3) and Tasmania (-1) recorded small decreases to 158 and 33 respectively.
The ACT and NT bucked the downward trend, with the former recording 9 deaths (+4) and the NT 50 fatalities for the year (+19).
At the time of writing, the preliminary national road toll stood at 1148 – down by 78 on the previous year.
One of the most notable trends from the past year in NSW and Victoria was a sharp reduction in deaths on regional roads, falling from 267 (2017) to 241 in NSW and from 156 (2017) to 108 in Victoria.
While the latest statistics have been broadly welcomed, road authorities have cautioned against complacency.
Canberra to be even better connected under updated transport strategy
Autonomous vehicle trials, better walking and cycling infrastructure and faster rail to Sydney are all part of an updated ACT transport strategy released for public comment last month.
The Moving Canberra 2019-2045 Integrated Transport Strategy considers how to deliver a vision for Canberra’s future transport experience that is modern, sustainable, integrated and provides real alternatives to driving.
“We need to keep improving and innovating our transport network to ensure Canberra continues to be one of the world’s most liveable cities,” Minister for Transport, Meegan Fitzharris, said at last month's launch.
“We’re getting ready for a city which will be home to 500,000 people by 2030, so to protect our liveability we need transport networks that provide genuine alternatives to the car.
“This updated transport strategy builds on recent achievements including commencing construction on the first stage of light rail and building a bigger and better bus network, and it outlines the strategic policies that will underpin our future transport needs.”
The Strategy complements the recently released ACT Planning Strategy and outlines a number of possible actions over the short, medium and long term. It is also underpinned by an ACT Movement and Place Framework, aimed at ensuring transport solutions are delivered for all road users and communities.
Some of the actions the Strategy looks at include:
setting aside land for high speed rail to Sydney;
- reducing pollution from cars, buses and trucks;
- separating walking and cycling paths;
- undertaking further autonomous vehicle trials;
- moving to a cashless public transport system;
- conducting a review of bike share; and
- undertaking a pre-feasibility study of proposed future light rail alignments.
TCA folds in with Austroads
Transport Certification Australia (TCA) has become part of Austroads following a government review of national transport bodies.
Announcing the acquisition last week, Neil Scales, Chair of Austroads and a Director of TCA, said the move would enable a better use of resources and expertise from both businesses.
The decision was made by the Transport and Infrastructure Council (TIC) following last year’s review of national transport bodies.
TCA is a government authority responsible for providing advice, accreditation and administration services around the use of telematics and related intelligent technologies. Austroads is the peak organisation of Australasian road transport and traffic agencies, undertaking research and guidance on the design, construction and management of road networks and associated infrastructure.
TCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Chris Koniditsiotis says the decision to fold TCA into Austroads does not change its role and function.
“Nor does it change TCA’s accountability to manage an open technology market on behalf of Australia’s road transport agencies and regulators, to support a growing number of applications for light and heavy vehicles with different levels of assurance,” he says.
“TCA will continue as a separate corporate entity reporting through its newly established Board, and will continue to lead by interacting with three distinct stakeholders groups – producers, consumers and providers.”