2013 national road toll falls by 8 per cent

The headline stat from the 2013 national road toll is promising news showing fatalities fell by 8 per cent. New South Wales and Victoria registered record low numbers, with South Australia and Tasmania the only jurisdictions to record an increase compared with 2012 numbers.

A total of 1193 road users were killed on Australian roads last year, down from 1298 in 2012. While the drop in the headline figure is encouraging a closer look at the stats shows 14 cyclists were killed in 2013, twice as many as 2012. Also, older road users registered an increase in fatalities.

Speaking to ABC’s AM program Professor Max Cameron from the Monash University Accident Research Centre said consideration needed to be given to the speed limit on the country’s rural roads.

“Our analysis has clearly shown that on our traditional Australian undivided roads that the speed limits are too high,” Cameron said. “The idea of travelling at 100km/h on our poor quality rural roads is really not justified on any grounds.

“The analysis suggests that it should be speed limits of no more than 90km/h, and preferably around 80km/h.”

While acknowledging Cameron is speaking from a more informed position than myself, I would have to question what the outcome of a 20% reduction in the speed limit on country road’s would have on driver fatigue.

Australia is a big country and we’re used to covering long distances on the road. It would take a massive cultural shift for road users to embrace such a measure as Cameron proposes.

Despite the increase in representation of cyclists in the road toll Sean Sampson from the Amy Gillett Foundation says there is ongoing discussions with state and territory governments to broaden the awareness of road safety for cyclists.

“Queensland have announced they will be having a trial of minimum overtaking distance,” Sampson said. “Tasmania in the last couple of days have said that they’ve got a strong interest in looking at the parameters of implementing their own trial. And there’s an inquiry in the ACT as well.”

ACT Policing Traffic Operations Officer in Charge, Station Sergeant Rod Anderson, sums it up best: “There is no magic wand for preventing tragic deaths on our roads. At the end of the day it all comes down to driver attitudes behind the wheel.”

[Source: ABC | Pic: News Ltd]

Australian Capital Territory127-58%
New South Wales369339-8%
Northern Territory4837-23%
South Australia9497+3%
Western Australia182163-10%