February 9, 2024
Federal Nationals MP Darren Chester has called on the government to partner with local councils to reduce road trauma.
The Opposition spokesperson for local government said there needed to be an increased focus on delivering road safety outcomes on the local road network which is managed by 537 councils across the nation.
“Against a backdrop of increasing road fatalities and trauma, it’s too easy for all levels of government to just point the finger at drivers when they should be building safer roads,” Mr Chester said.
“Last year, 1253 people were killed on our roads which was our worst result in five years.
“The ripple effect throughout the community of a single life lost is felt by families, friends and first responders who attend the often horrific scenes.
“We should be appalled by this entirely preventable loss of life and demanding action from all levels of government to work in partnership with experts and road users to minimise deaths and injuries.
“The Roads to Recovery program was created by the Coalition more than 20 years ago to help local councils improve the estimated 678,000km of roads they manage, and maintenance is a critical part of road safety.”
Mr Chester has written to the Federal Minister for Local Government Kristy McBain suggesting she work with the Australian Local Government Association to issue a revised “statement of expectations” for expenditure under the Roads to Recovery program, with an increased focus on reducing road trauma.
“With the Roads to Recovery program budgeted to gradually rise from $500 million to $1 billion per year, it has the potential to deliver more safety outcomes,” Mr Chester said.
“The last statement of expectations on this program was issued in 2017 and it needs to be revised to ensure the program is fit for purpose and achieving the best possible reductions in road trauma on the local road network.
“Councils should be asked to consider the road safety outcomes, particularly for vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists.
“The criteria for the program also needs to be flexible enough to provide for more active transport options, such as shared pathways and trails, to reduce the risk of crashes.”
Mr Chester said he would work constructively with the Minister for Local Government in the interests of reducing road trauma which cost the nation in excess of $30 billion per year.
“Sadly, a disproportionate amount of road trauma occurs in regional Australia on the local road network,” he said.
“We are all expected to make sure our cars are roadworthy but governments are failing to work together to ensure we have car-worthy roads.
“Motorists are enduring potholes, land slips and crumbling road shoulders which all contribute to crashes and are a direct result of a lack of funding.
“It is well accepted that road safety is all about a combination of factors including safer vehicles, safer cars, safer speeds, good driver behaviour and the condition of the road environment.
“Reducing road trauma requires national leadership and a willingness to admit that all levels of government must do more in partnership with road users to save lives and eliminate injuries.”
- Related article: ALGA Welcomes Boost For Roads