Australia records highest road toll in over a decade

Australia’s states and territories can’t begin sharing their road safety data fast enough, according to the peak body for local motoring groups, as the national road toll has reached a sobering marker.

Data released by the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE) shows 1310 people died on Australian roads between May 1, 2023 and April 30, 2024.

This is not only an additional 132 deaths over the May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023 period, but it’s also the highest 12-month death toll figure since 30 November 2012, which had an identical number of fatalities.

Road deaths surged 31.2 per cent in New South Wales, 35.3 per cent in the Northern Territory and 12.4 per cent in Victoria.

Since hitting its most recent low of 1095 road user deaths in 2020 – when pandemic-related lockdowns and border closures limited travel – Australia’s road toll climbed back to 1270 fatalities in the 2023 calendar year, the highest level since 2016.

The tragic figure comes less than a month after the Federal Government announced it will require states and territories to provide previously withheld safety data if they want to receive road funding.

The new five-year funding deal – known as the National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects – is due to take effect on July 1, 2024 and will include a $21.2 million investment in the National Road Safety Data Hub, announced in this week’s Federal Budget.

So far, Queensland is the only jurisdiction to announce it will share data on car crashes, traffic policing and road conditions with the Federal Government.

According to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the peak body for the nation’s motoring clubs, the states withholding their data aren’t just endangering their own road users, but failing to help those in other regions.

“To its credit, the Federal Government has agreed to insert data transparency clauses into the next five-year intergovernmental road funding agreement, which begins in July,” AAA managing director Michael Bradley said.

“These figures tragically show Australia’s current approach to road trauma management is failing and that we need a data-driven response to a problem killing more than 100 people every month.

“The Queensland Government has publicly agreed to provide road safety data, but other states have been silent on this important reform proposal. 

“Data sharing will reveal which state’s road safety measures are the most effective, and the safety interventions that are most needed.

“That will not only save lives, but also end the politicisation of road funding by revealing whether governments are investing in the roads that most need safety upgrades, rather than investing in road projects in marginal electorates to win votes.”

In this week’s Federal Budget, the Australian Government announced plans to continue existing road maintenance and safety programs, reaching a spend of $1 billion in 2033-34 on the Roads to Recovery Program, $200 million on the Safer Local Roads and Infrastructure Program, and $150 million on the Black Spot Program.

An additional $10.8 million will be spent on the National Road Safety education and awareness campaign throughout the 2024-25 financial year.

Australian road toll – 12 month rolling count

State/Territory Road deaths (May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023) Road deaths (May 1, 2023 to April 30, 2024) Change
NSW  279 366 87 (+31.2%)
VIC  259 291 32 (+12.4%)
QLD  280 296 16 (+5.7%)
SA  92 101 9 (+9.8%)
WA  176 172 -4 (-2.3%)
TAS  43 32 -11 (-25.6%)
NT  34 46 12 (+35.3%)
ACT  15 6 -9 (-60.0%)
Total 1178 1310 132 (+11.2%)
Data courtesy of BITRE, AAA

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