The National Safer Roads Project: Placing road safety on the political map
The national SaferRoads project is a partnership of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS). Together, these organisations represent the majority of road users in Australia.
These organisations established the SaferRoads project for three key reasons. First, with an average of five people killed and more than 60 seriously injured on Australian roads every day, road trauma continues to be a significant social problem, which the partners believe needs be addressed. Second, during the past seven years, the rate of improvement in the numbers of people killed on the road appears to have slowed, and there is some suggestion that the numbers of injuries could be increasing. Hence there is a need to make a greater effort if we are continue the improvements of the past. In this respect, the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS), which aims to reduce the fatality rate by 40 per cent by 2010, provides a very useful policy framework. The SaferRoads project is designed to support the NRSS.
Third, research by the AAA shows that motorists are quite apathetic about the issue of road safety. More specifically, motorists vastly underestimate the true extent of the road safety problem, and have a very narrow understanding of the ways in which safety might be improved. This topic is elaborated on in the first section of this paper, and is linked to an aim of SaferRoads, which is to raise the profile of road safety in the community and with decision makers.
The second section of this paper introduces the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP). AusRAP is an initiative being pursued by the AAA and its member clubs as a means of highlighting the true extent of the road safety problem, and filling the missing link in motorists understanding of road safety issues.