Road Safety Inquiry
Taking a stand on road trauma
There is no silver bullet when it comes to road safety. We must look at the issue holistically if we are to reduce road trauma.
That’s why the findings and recommendations of the Tasmanian Legislative Council Select Committee into Road Safety in Tasmania are a significant step forward in changing the way we think about road trauma.
This inquiry was called to address Tasmania’s road safety record, particularly our failure to meet National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) targets. The NRSS 2011-2020 was aimed at reducing both the annual number of road crash fatalities and serious road crash injuries by at least 30% over the 10-year period. We failed to reach both these targets.
In 2011, 24 people lost their lives on our roads, while 272 were seriously injured. In 2022, 51 people died and 268 were seriously injured. On average, between 2013 and 2022, 35 people died and 271 were seriously injured on our roads each year.
Tasmania has the worst road safety record of any state, with 6.47 deaths per 100,000 people at June 30, 2023. This is far higher than the best-performing state, New South Wales, which has 3.85 deaths per 100,000. If we could match them, we could save 15 lives a year.
How can we fix it?
Because of these statistics, we need to look closely at the way road safety is managed. This includes road infrastructure design and funding, vehicle safety, the capacities of the State Service and civil construction sector to deliver safer roads, education to improve road user behaviour, impacts to the health system and the cost of road trauma.
It’s also vital that we consider improved data collection, as well as road safety success stories and research from other states and countries, to help us implement national and international best practice in Tasmania.
We know that our poor road trauma trends have continued despite advances in vehicle design, the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Tasmania’s roads, increased avenues for police enforcement, as well as improvements to education programs and campaigns.
And for these reasons, it’s not just governments that must take responsibility for the failure of the NRSS, but our community as a whole. All road users need to accept that taking risks and poor behaviour by some is a recipe for disaster, making crash reduction difficult.
We simply can’t continue with the same way of thinking of years gone by and expect to improve road safety in the future.
In preparing our submission to the Select Committee inquiry, we launched a web portal so Tasmanians could have their say.
The 2010 comments, observations and ideas received in just two weeks helped shape our submission and confirm what our members have been telling us – we need safer roads, better driver training, increased police presence on our roads, increased automated speed enforcement, speed limits that are aligned with the road standard, and more road safety education in schools.