Australia, Transport News

ARSF welcomes national road safety action plan to drive down road trauma

The ARSF is commending the federal government and the nation’s transport bodies on the new road safety action plan that focuses on three key areas for improvement to drive down the road toll

The Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) says it welcomes the National Road Safety Action Plan released by the federal government to address alarming road toll statistics.

The action plan was developed by both the federal government and state and territory transport and road safety government agencies and is set to align relevant stakeholders to save lives.

The ARSF says it’s encouraged to see a greater focus on the three core gaps within the existing approach to reducing road trauma across the plan’s nine main priorities.

Firstly, with approximately 17 per cent of all road crash deaths involving a heavy vehicle, ARSF commends the commitment to fund vital education on how to share roads with heavy vehicles.

ARSF founder and CEO Russell White says community education underpinned the nation’s long-term success and that every road user has a responsibility to understand the dangers presented by heavy vehicles.

“We have a road network across Australia totalling more than 877,000 km – more than 21 times the earth’s circumference – with many connected through high-speed roads above 80km an hour,” White says.

“Combine that with the inherent risk of death and serious injury associated with the greater mass of heavy vehicles and you can start to understand how this has become a major issue across the nation.

“It is, therefore, a critical life-saving piece of the puzzle to facilitate greater individual education and skills capability around the unique dangers and safety measures that ought to be adopted when sharing the road with heavy vehicles.”

The National Action Plan also addresses the gap in education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who the ARSF says are almost three times more likely to die in road crashes than other Australians.

“Foundational learning is at the very heart of all ARSF initiatives and we’ve long advocated for mandating approaches that better educate all Australians, particularly our most vulnerable groups,” White says.

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“Earlier education is critical to ensuring every Australian is equipped to face the true road risks – whether that be on foot, on two wheels, four wheels or more – and we’re pleased to see this recognised within the plan.”

The third core area the ARSF acknowledges as a vital pillar in reducing the amount of death and injury occurring on Australian roads relates to workplace road safety.

The National Action Plan has outlined steps for enabling improved safety culture in organisations, which will encourage businesses to take responsibility for vehicles and roads within the workplace.

“Road trauma is the largest contributor to work-related traumatic injury, accounting for more than six in 10 incidents, with half of those occurring on a public road,” White says.

“Funding impactful programs that support Australian businesses in understanding their role in reducing the trauma statistics and taking ownership for building positive road safety cultures will make a significant difference to the overall efforts.”

The National Road Safety Action Plan 2023-25 is the first Action Plan under the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30, which was agreed to by the federal government and all state and territory governments in May 2021.

The Action Plan sets out the key actions all governments will undertake to 2025, in pursuit of the agreed priorities identified in the Strategy. An annual progress report will be publicly available on the National Road Safety Strategy website to provide oversight on the combined national effort.

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