The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) has welcomed the funding for road safety initiatives announced in the 2021-2022 Federal Budget, but expressed concern that the funding does not go far enough.
ACRS President, Mr Martin Small said: “The budget announced last night does not include the level of road safety funding necessary. We had hoped that last year’s $2 billion in Federal road safety initiatives would be matched in this year’s Federal Budget.”
ACRS is particularly concerned that the valuable Road Safety Program is considered a short-term stimulus measure, with the funding ending after 2022-23, and is waiting to see further commitment in the upcoming National Road Safety Strategy to 2030.
“It is disappointing that the commitments by all Australian governments to the elimination of fatal and serious injury on the road by 2050 have not been reflected in this budget. We now need to see a detailed investment and policy plan by all Australian governments to support this goal, and more immediately achieve the 2030 targets announced in the draft strategy. Multi-year investment and policy commitments are needed by all Australian governments.” Mr Small concluded.
ACRS strongly supports the collective goal agreed by Australian governments of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 2050. The importance of the Vision Zero target is clear when considering the impact of road trauma.
The total cost of road trauma in Australia is estimated to be $30 billion each year. With over 1,100 people dying and 40,000 suffering major injuries on Australian roads each year the economic, societal and personal cost of road trauma is staggering.
The 2021-2022 budget does specify funding for the following road safety programs:
• $1b in 2022-23 for the Road Safety Program
• $5.1m over 4 years for the Office of Road Safety
• $80m for Tasmanian Roads Package – Bass Highway Safety
• $16m for WA Regional State Road Safety Improvement Program
ACRS is pleased to note that ongoing funding is allocated to the Office of Road Safety. “We see this as a down-payment on the establishment of a much stronger office within the Commonwealth, with statutory functions to lead Australia’s road safety effort” Mr Small said.
The $6 billion of new money included in the Budget for the building and upgrading roads is important, and is expected to provide some safety benefits, but generic road improvement programs are insufficient without safety accountability. “We want infrastructure safety star ratings to be published, so that the community better understands the safety of our roads. Just like we know the safety ratings of the cars we drive, we need to know the safety ratings of the roads we are driving on” Mr Small said.
“ACRS encourages the Government to consider the recommendations resulting from the Inquiry into the 2011-2020 National Road Safety Strategy.
The Inquiry recommendations included establishing a minimum $3 billion a year road safety fund, and enacting legislation to ensure Australian Government investment in road safety is at least 10% of the annual cost of road crashes to the country (which $3 billion currently represents)” Mr Small concluded.