National Road Safety Action Plan launched

A new road safety action plan has been agreed to by the nation’s federal and state governments to coordinate the push to reduce the unacceptable level of road trauma across Australia.

The plan contains contains some specific initiatives relating to bike riding, but there should be outcomes from actions related to other priorities that will be greatly beneficial for people on bikes.

The National Road Safety Action Plan (2023–2025 sets out nine priority areas for immediate action:

  • Infrastructure planning and investment
  • Regional road safety
  • Remote road safety
  • Vehicle safety
  • Heavy vehicle safety
  • Workplace road safety
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
  • Vulnerable road users
  • Risky road use

Heavy vehicle safety has a strong emphasis, with the federal government funding initiatives to improve the interaction of heavy vehicles and other road users and develop a new fatigue risk management approach, together with encouraging the uptake of fatigue and driver inattention detection technologies.

And there will be new legislation to require enhanced devices for indirect vision, blind spot information systems and side underrun protection systems on heavy vehicles (subject to international developments).

There are a number of initiatives to address the worsening safety levels in regional Australia, particularly on roads with speed limits of 100 km/h or higher.

And this year work will begin on developing a regulatory impact statement on reducing the default speed limit for unsealed roads in regional areas.

Addressing risky road use will also be a focus, something that will be of interest to riders who witness such episodes almost daily.

Risky road use includes actions that are explicitly illegal, including speeding, drink or drug driving, illegal mobile phone use, not wearing a seatbelt or helmet, running a red light, unlicensed driving, and ‘hoon’ driving.

Sixteen per cent of serious casualty road crashes resulting in hospital attendance in Australia occur as a result of distracted driving.

The action plan says setting appropriate speed limits is a critical component of road safety. Enforcement of speed limits and deterrence measures, as well as education of the dangers of speeding, both play a critical role in reducing this type of risky behaviour.

The vulnerable road user initiatives give priority to the problems of motorcycle and pedestrian road trauma, with motorcyclists being 21 per cent of all fatalities and pedestrians 13.3 per cent.

The action plan says bike rider fatalities averaged 3.4% of total road deaths over the last five years, with the rate of fatalities remaining consistent over the last ten years.

The plan commits state government to fund and implement infrastructure upgrades and consider lower speed zones in areas with high risks to vulnerable road users.

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