National reduction in road deaths

A notable decline in 2018 nationwide road deaths with 78 fewer fatalities has been welcomed—but the drop should not be seen as a green light to trigger complacency.

The most recent statistical evidence, recorded by relevant authorities, shows that there were 1,146 deaths for the 12-month period ended December 2018.

This represents a 6.4 per cent drop from the previous 12-month period, in which 1,224 road deaths were recorded and is the lowest 12-month total since August 2014.

Road toll figures are collected and analysed by the federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) using information provided by State and Territory transport agencies throughout Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This analysis also shows New South Wales has reported a 9 per cent decline with 389 road deaths in 2017 compared to 354 in 2018.

Victoria experienced a 17.4 per cent drop in road deaths (259 in 2017 and 214 in 2018), along with a 19 per cent fall in fatalities in South Australia (100 in 2017 and 81 in 2018).

Tasmania had a 2.9 per cent drop and Western Australia experienced a 0.6 per cent decline while Queensland had the same number as the previous year—however the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory each experienced increases.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack welcomed the recent statistics, saying they showed encouraging improvement.

But Mr McCormack warned against adopting a false sense of security, saying nobody should rest on their laurels and complacency remained the real and ever-present enemy of road safety.

“A 6.4 per cent decline in road deaths last year should trigger a reason to ask how that performance can be improved in 2019 and what more can we do to make a difference,” he said.

“One road death or accident is one too many and the release of these recent national road death figures should serve as a reminder to all road users and stakeholders, including all Governments, to be ever-vigilant and work harder to achieve improvements.

“The ultimate safety outcome we are all striving for is a target of zero road deaths and serious injuries in Australia.

“The Government takes road safety seriously and this is reflected in the ongoing work we are doing to prevent tragedies and make a real difference to ensure Australians can get home sooner and safer.”

Mr McCormack said State and Federal Governments shared the ‘vision zero’ target and are working with multiple agencies and through various jurisdictions to improve road safety standards and deliver a more secure transport system for all Australians and their families.

He said the Federal Government's record $75 billion infrastructure plan is being rolled-out over the next decade with enhanced road safety outcomes central to numerous projects being conducted throughout the nation.

Other important work is underway to reduce road trauma such as the National Road Safety Governance Review, which has been identified and backed by Mr McCormack as a positive first step in following through on the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 Inquiry's recommendations.

The Review will assess Australia's road safety governance structure, including comprehensive mapping of specific roles, responsibilities and accountabilities held across agencies and jurisdictions.

“We should never forget road accidents also have a broader impact on the families of the victims and also the emergency service workers who respond at such times of need, such as police, ambulance and emergency road crews,” Mr McCormack said.

“While we have seen some improvement on the number of road deaths in 2018, we can do even better by ensuring basic safety steps are followed, such as wearing seat-belts and obeying speed limits and road rules.

“Driver fatigue and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are other major factors in contributing to road deaths and accidents.

“All drivers can take self-responsibility at all times and follow these basic safety standards to ensure emergency service workers won't be attending the scene of an accident involving them in future or knocking on the door of their home, with tragic news for their friends and families.”

Latest road fatality data from Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics: