Surge in road fatalities but little in budget for road safety

Road fatalities have surged to 1,310* in the 12 months up to April 2024, an increase of 11.2% from the previous year and the highest number since 2011. This alarming trend underscores the urgent need for comprehensive road safety interventions, unfortunately not supported in this Federal Budget.

The Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) recognises the commitment of the Albanese Government to enhance road safety and productivity through recent funding increases and program reforms. While these efforts reflect a positive direction, ACRS expresses significant concerns that these measures do not sufficiently address the urgent and complex challenges of road safety in Australia.

The investment of $10.8 million in 2024-25 for a one-year national road safety education and awareness campaign, while a step in the right direction, appears insufficient in scale and duration to affect the deep and lasting changes needed in public attitudes and behaviours. Road safety education is critical and should be supported by continuous and adequately funded initiatives.

The commitment of $21.2 million over six years to the National Road Safety Data Hub and a clear commitment to improving nationally available data on road safety is a positive development; however, ACRS stresses the need for more immediate actions and clear implementation strategies to ensure that this investment translates into tangible improvements in road safety.

While the $100 million investment in the new Active Transport Fund is a commendable support for safer walking and cycling infrastructure, the investment doesn’t start until 2025-26 and represents less than $50,000 per year for each of Australia’s 537 local council areas. It is crucial that these initiatives are part of a broader, integrated approach to road safety that encompasses all aspects of transport and urban planning.

With road trauma numbers increasing significantly, there is no time to waste. If nothing changes, if fatalities keep rising at this rate, if the Government doesn’t take serious action, by the time we reach 2030, instead of reaching our goal of halving the number of fatalities since 2020, we will have increased them to 2450 in a single year – a number not seen in Australia since the 1980s.