Stay safe on the roads this holiday season

Media Release

JB143/2014

19 December 2014

Summer has arrived and with many Australians hitting the road over the Christmas break, it's important we all remember to drive safely and think of our responsibilities as road users during this busy time of year.

With life becoming increasingly hectic and mobile technology allowing us to be available at any time anywhere, we are all faced with more distractions as motorists than ever before. It is therefore extremely important that we all remain vigilant and take extra care on our roads to help make this festive season a time of togetherness and not catastrophe.

The consequences of even a small mistake on the road can be horrific, causing grief for friends and family and tearing communities apart.

I am extremely pleased that as a nation we have made significant progress in reducing the number of deaths from road crashes.

The latest Road Deaths Monthly Bulletin released by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) shows that 1,185 people died on our roads in the 12 months to November 2014—six deaths fewer than in the previous 12-month period.

In 2014 road fatalities have been lower than at any time since 1945, but sadly still equates to more than 1 in every 20,000 Australians.

We have seen an average annual reduction in total road deaths of 3.3 per cent over the last five years, and an even higher reduction of 8.0 per cent among young people aged 17–25 years.

These continuing downward trends are encouraging—but the fact remains that far too many people are being killed and seriously injured on our roads.

I recently released a review by BITRE showing that road trauma costs the nation an estimated $27 billion per year. The review evaluated both domestic and international road safety solutions, and identified road investment as key to continuing the current downward trend in fatalities.

The Australian Government is working hard to improve road safety by investing $50 billion in safer more productive infrastructure and regulating for safer vehicles.

Our Black Spot Programme is providing a record $500 million to 2018–19 to upgrade dangerous sections of road identified by the community, improving safety and efficiency for all Australians.

The Australian Government has also established the $229 million National Highway Upgrade programme to improve our key national highway networks where many road incidents often occur.

We are also in the process of reviewing the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 with a view to reducing regulatory costs to business and individuals and improving the safety and environmental performance of motor vehicles.

While increased infrastructure investment and technological advances will continue to make roads and vehicles safer, there is no substitute for responsible and safe driving.

If you are driving this holiday season, make sure you and your passengers are properly restrained. Pay attention to road signage, your surroundings and the speed limit. Make sure you take regular breaks, avoid using the phone, and never mix drinking, or drugs with driving.

Together we can all make this holiday season a safe and happy time for all Australians free from the tragedy of losing a loved one. Stay safe on the roads and have a Merry Christmas.