Australia records highest road toll in over a decade

Australian states and territories cannot start sharing their road safety data fast enough, according to the peak body for local motoring groups, as the national road toll has hit a sobering marker.

Figures released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Economics (BITRE) show 1,310 people died on Australian roads between 1 May 2023 and 30 April 2024.

Not only is this an extra 132 deaths over the period from 1 May 2022 to 30 April 2023, but it is also the highest number of deaths in a 12-month period since 30 November 2012, when there were an identical number of deaths cases.

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Road deaths increased by 31.2 per cent in New South Wales, 35.3 per cent in the Northern Territory and 12.4 per cent in Victoria.

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Since hitting its latest trough of 1,095 road user deaths in 2020 – when pandemic-related lockdowns and border closures curtailed travel – Australia’s road toll has climbed back to 1,270 deaths in calendar year 2023, the highest 2016 level

The tragic figure comes less than a month after the federal government announced it will require countries and territories to provide previously withheld safety data if they want to receive road funding.

The new five-year funding agreement – ​​known as the National Road Transport Infrastructure Projects Partnership Agreement – ​​is due to take effect on July 1, 2024, and will include a $21.2 million investment in the National Road Safety Data Center, announced in this week’s federal budget.

So far, Queensland is the sole jurisdiction to announce that it will share data on car crashes, traffic police and road conditions with the federal government.

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According to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the peak body for the nation’s auto clubs, states withholding data are not just putting their own road users at risk, but failing to help those in other regions.

“To its credit, the federal government has agreed to include data transparency clauses in the next five-year intergovernmental road funding agreement that starts in July,” said AAA managing director Michael Bradley.

“These figures tragically show that Australia’s current approach to managing road injuries is failing and that we need a data-driven response to a problem that kills more than 100 people every month.”

“The Queensland Government has publicly agreed to provide road safety data, but other states have remained silent on this important reform proposal.

“Data sharing will reveal which country’s road safety measures are most effective and which safety measures are most needed.

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“This will not only save lives but also end the politicization of road funding by revealing whether governments are investing in the roads most in need of safety improvement, rather than investing in road projects in marginal electorates, to to win votes.”

In this week’s federal budget, the Australian government announced plans to continue existing road maintenance and safety programs, reaching $1 billion in spending in 2033-34 for the Roads Rehabilitation Program, $200 million for the Safer Local Roads Program and infrastructure and $150 million under the Black Spot program.

An additional $10.8 million will be spent on the National Road Safety Education and Awareness Campaign in the 2024-25 financial year.

Australian Toll – 12 month continuous count

MORE ▼: Australian states forced to release secret crash data as road tolls riseMORE ▼: Queensland will share important road safety data with the Australian GovernmentMORE ▼: 2024-25 federal budget overview: True cost of performance standards revealed

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