National road strategy to miss major milestone

Efforts to reduce Australia’s road toll appear to have stalled, with 1154 lives lost on the nation’s roads in the 12 months to March.

This was an improvement of only seven on the 1161 fatalities recorded in the 12 months to March 2019, according to a new Australian Automobile Association report benchmarking the performance of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 (NRSS).

In the 12 months since March 2019, the road toll in South Australia rose by 27.5 per cent, in Tasmania by 23.3 per cent, and Victoria by 11.5 per cent.

The NRSS, signed by the Commonwealth and all State and Territory governments in 2011, commits to reducing the road toll and injury rates by at least 30 per cent by the end of this year.

No single state was on track to meet this target at March 2020 (and before Covid-19 travel restrictions).

Despite the setback, the AAA says government responses to Covid-19 provide real hope for the next strategy currently being finalised to begin next year.

“Australians will readily change their practices when governments demonstrate and communicate an urgency … [and] this gives real hope that the next National Road Safety Strategy will be more successful than the last,” AAA managing director Michael Bradley said.