Ministers endorse new road safety plan

By: Jason Whittaker

A new safety plan will be introduced to curb road carnage, but there are doubts whether governments will meet their

A new safety plan will be introduced to curb road carnage, but there are doubts whether governments will meet their commitments under the National Road Safety Strategy.

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) today agreed to implement the National Road Safety Action Plan for 2009 and 2010 when they met in Adelaide.

The plan establishes the priorities for national action over the coming two years, with Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese saying it demonstrates a commitment to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on Australian roads.

"Annual statistics show that more than 1,500 people are killed and more than 30,000 hospitalised as a result of road crashes," he says.

Albanese also raised concerns whether enough is being done to reach the ambitious goal of a 40 percent drop in the road toll by 2010.

"The reduction to date stands at about 25 per cent, so reaching the 2010 target remains a formidable challenge," he says.

The goal is part of the National Road Safety Strategy agreed to in 2001, of which the new safety plan will be presented under.

To achieve the target, Albanese has urged all state and territory governments to work together to play "a critical role" in implementing effective measures.

By endorsing the new road safety action plan, the nation’s transport ministers agreed to develop a best practice speed management strategy as well as a crash risk assessment model for major parts of the road network.

The plan also includes the adoption of uniform ‘safe system’ principles in road design, construction and maintenance as well as regulatory assessment of a proposed Australian Design Rule covering stability control mechanisms in cars.

"The new Action Plan recognises that there is no single solution, instead setting out a comprehensive package of measures addressing all parts of the road transport system," Albanese says

Ministers will also need to improve consumer awareness of safe vehicles and commit to focussing on innovative drink and drug driving laws as well as targeted public education.

Albanese says there are also huge financial benefits to reducing the road toll as accidents cost the economy an estimated $18 billion a year.

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