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Joint submission strengthens case for crash investigation overhaul

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Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s safety investigations must be extended to include heavy vehicle crashes, according to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) and the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad).

Today, in releasing details of a joint submission to the Joint Select Committee Inquiry into Road Safety, the ATA and NatRoad called for no-blame, independent road safety investigations.

“This is a move that has already been recommended by both the independent review of the National Road Safety Strategy and by the Productivity Commission,” said new ATA CEO Michael Deegan.

“As an independent agency, the ATSB can provide valuable insights that can reduce the risk of future accidents and incidents when implemented by industry and government.”

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said the submission raised key priorities that should be fast tracked, especially infrastructure improvements that will improve on-road safety.

“Road conditions are a causation factor in about 30 per cent of all crashes and is a factor in the severity of 100 per cent of crashes,” Clark said.

“Road projects that minimise safety risks, upgrade unsafe roads and address gaps in the quality of the road network must be prioritised.”

Deegan said safety is not sufficiently prioritised in road spending.

“In 2019 Austroads released new truck rest area guidelines, but they are not linked to funding decisions,” Deegan said.

“All infrastructure funding projects should be required to apply the Austroads rest area guidelines to the planning, design, and delivery of road infrastructure.

“The ATA and NatRoad call for transport ministers to agree as soon as possible that the Austroads guidance on this subject should be mandated in new and upgraded road funding proposals.”

Clark said the submission’s recommendation support Vision Zero and the Australian Government’s ambition to eliminate road crash fatalities by 2050.

“Taking a safety-focused approach to road infrastructure development will build a solid foundation for achieving Vision Zero and saving Australian lives,” he said.

The five recommendations from both bodies are:

  • The Joint Select Committee on Road Safety should recommend that the Australian government take immediate action to extend ATSB safety investigations to heavy vehicle crashes.
  • The Australian government should require all infrastructure funding projects to apply the Austroads rest area guidelines to the planning, design and delivery of road infrastructure.
  • The National Land Transport Act 2014 should be amended to include safety as a focus.
  • The Australian government should change its approach to funding road projects to:

– require project assessments to use the willingness to pay approach in valuing the lives saved and injuries avoided from safety improvements

– prioritise funding for projects aimed at minimising road safety risks

– prioritise funding for projects which address infrastructure gaps identified by the National Service Level Standards Framework

– require the adoption of safe system principles for project design

– specifically target funding for upgrading unsafe remote and rural roads.

  • The Conran regulatory impact assessment reforms should be extended to the Commonwealth, to allow agencies to select the option which saves the greatest number of lives/prevents the greatest number of serious injuries.

The select committee is due to present a final report on or before July 1, 2022.

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