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Report on performance

Transport outputs and programmes

Output 1.1.2: Transport Safety

(Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Maritime and Land Transport Business Division)


Transport safety and public confidence in transport safety is maintained or improved

The department contributes to improved transport safety by publishing the findings of ATSB safety research projects and accident investigations, and ensuring that safety information is accessible to governments, industry organisations, community groups and the general public. The department also ensures that new vehicles entering the Australian market comply with appropriate design standards.

Road deaths in 2005

Australia recorded 1,637 road deaths during calendar year 2005. This was 3 per cent more than the number of people killed on the roads in 2004, and represented the first major interruption to the downward trend in deaths since the introduction of the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) on 1 January 2001.

The 2005 result translates to 8.1 deaths per 100,000 population, a 14 per cent reduction from the benchmark rate of 9.3 (based on 1999 figures). With a challenging target of no more than 5.6 deaths per 100,000 people by the end of 2010 (see figure 3.1), the Australian Government is working with the states and territories and other stakeholders to accelerate the rate of decline of road deaths. Two major initiatives are the development of a new two-year National Road Safety Action Plan (see page 45) and a driver education scheme for
P-platers (page 45).

Figure 3.1 Trends in road safety outcomes

Road deaths per 100,000 population-moving 12-month total
(December 1990 to December 2010)

Figure 3.1 Trends in road safety outcomes

Note: Each point represents the rate of road deaths in the preceding 12 months, and 'Dec' refers to data as at 31 December.
Source: ATSB.


Transport safety and public confidence in transport safety is maintained or improved

Aviation safety continues to improve

Over the 10 years from 1 July 1996, the total number of Australian air accidents (fatal and non-fatal) has declined by nearly 50 per cent, from 228 to 129. Importantly, the number of fatal accidents has remained low (see Figure 3.2). The total accident rate (calculated as the number of accidents per 100,000 flying hours) has declined significantly over the decade to 2004 (the latest year for flying hours data), indicating an improved level of aviation safety. While these results are encouraging, considerable effort and vigilance will be needed, both by government and industry, to sustain and improve on the gains made over the previous decade.

Figure 3.2 Trends in aviation safety outcomes

Figure 3.2 Trends in aviation safety outcomes

Source: ATSB.


Other agencies, governments and industry are assisted to evaluate and improve transport safety interventions and outcomes

On behalf of the government, the ATSB supports other agencies, governments and industry to evaluate and improve transport safety interventions and outcomes by:

  • releasing statistical and research publications (see 'Quantity', page 48)
  • coordinating national road safety action plans under the National Road Safety Strategy 2001-2010
  • piloting safety education programmes (see the 'Novice Driver Programme trial').

Development of National Road Safety Action Plan 2007 and 2008

The ATSB initiated a comprehensive review of national road safety progress and priorities, and commenced work on the development of the National Road Safety Action Plan for 2007 and 2008. This fourth action plan under the National Road Safety Strategy 2001-10 is being developed jointly with state and territory governments, with input from a broad range of organisations through the National Road Safety Strategy Panel. It will be submitted to the Australian Transport Council in late 2006, with a view to implementation from 1 January 2007.

A novice driver education trial is initiated in NSW and Victoria

Novice Driver Programme trial

In 2005-06, work continued on the development of an innovative driver education programme to be tested in a large-scale trial in New South Wales and Victoria. This supports the Australian Government's policy initiative to work with the states and territories to introduce a national compulsory scheme for all new provisional licence holders (P-platers).

The aim is to design and deliver a best practice programme that focuses on raising awareness of driver risk factors and provides inexperienced drivers with an appreciation of their own limitations and the knowledge they need to become safer drivers.

The trial is being implemented in partnership with the New South Wales and Victorian governments, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Insurance Australia Limited and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria. About 7,000 P-platers in each state are expected to undertake the course, with a similar number participating in control groups. All trial participants will be monitored for at least a year after completion of the trial, and independent experts will be commissioned to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme.

While progress in 2005-06 was much slower than expected, the project partners are expecting to finalise the curriculum and to commence the trial in 2007.

The total cost of the trial, including evaluation, is expected to be about $10 million. The Australian Government has contributed $3 million.

Did you know?

Evidence from an extensive body of research indicates that even small reductions in vehicle speeds result in a marked reduction in the number of road deaths and serious injuries. The speed at which you drive affects not only your risk of involvement in a crash, but also the severity of the crash.

Regular ATSB community attitudes surveys show growing public understanding of speed risks, and majority support for quite strict approaches to speed management. However, this is still well short of the profound change in public attitudes to drink driving that developed over the last two decades.


Australia's motor vehicle safety standards are aligned with international standards

New vehicle standards taking shape

Before any road vehicle can be supplied to the market in Australia, it must comply with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. The Act, which applies to imported and locally manufactured vehicles, requires all vehicles to meet national safety and environment standards when they are first supplied to the Australian market. These standards are the Australian Design Rules (ADRs). See also Table 3.3.

The department is progressively reviewing the ADRs to harmonise them, where possible, with international standards developed under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) framework.

Harmonising will remove trade barriers and allow vehicles manufactured for world markets to be supplied to Australia without the need for extensive modifications. It will lead to lower costs and to better access to safer, more environmentally friendly vehicles.

As part of this process, in 2005-06 the department:

  • published revised, harmonised ADRs 2, 3, 4 and 5, relating to door retention components, seats, seatbelts and seatbelt anchorages, respectively
  • completed the consultation process for ADRs 8 and 14, relating to safety glazing and rear vision mirrors, respectively
  • progressed ADRs for heavy vehicle brake systems and mechanical connections between vehicles, which are at the point of final decision making
  • prepared regulation impact statements relating to buses, including ADR 58-Omnibuses for Hire and Reward, and ADRs 66 and 68, relating to occupant protection in buses, to allow the regulatory proposals to be submitted for public comment
  • registered 37 ADRs on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments as required under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003
  • prepared a regulation impact statement to examine regulatory options for underrun barriers for heavy vehicles and to seek public comment
  • prepared a regulation impact statement and drafted legislative changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 to facilitate the implementation of the UNECE 1958 Agreement (to allow for mutual recognition of vehicle certification approvals)
  • prepared a regulation impact statement in anticipation of acceding to the UNECE 1998 Agreement, which sets out the arrangements for developing and agreeing on global technical regulations for motor vehicles.

85% of vehicle and workshop processes are completed within target timeframes

Vehicle and workshop processes meeting growing demand

Manufacturers and importers must demonstrate that their vehicle types meet ADRs before they can be supplied to the Australian market.

Special compliance arrangements apply for manufacturers and importers who supply limited numbers of new and used vehicles to the specialist and enthusiast market. The department assesses whether a vehicle is a specialist or enthusiast model under criteria administered as part of the Specialist and Enthusiest Vehicles Scheme (SEVS). The majority of vehicles that are supplied to the market under SEVS are used imported vehicles, which must be processed through the Regional Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS). Each registered automotive workshop has a 'schedule of vehicles' that specifies the vehicle models that the workshop has been approved to import and modify.

In 2005-06 there was a significant increase in the demand for additional vehicle models to be added to RAWS schedules of vehicles. The approval process for these additional models requires a physical inspection of the first vehicle after preparation by the requesting workshop, which may be either a new or existing workshop. The department aims to complete these inspections within six weeks of the workshop completing preparation requirements. Approximately 54 per cent of workshop inspections during the year were conducted within the target time frame, with an average waiting time of 42.5 days. While this is a reduction on the previous year's performance in timeliness, there was a 64 per cent increase in the number of inspections undertaken.

Did you know?

The Australian Government has jurisdiction over motor vehicles to the point of first supply to the market. Once a vehicle is supplied to market it comes under the jurisdiction of the individual state or territory government. On behalf of the Australian Government, the department's role is to:

  • develop and certify compliance with standards for all vehicle models entering the Australian market for the first time
  • regulate importation of motor vehicles
  • conduct research to support vehicle standards development
  • administer the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles Scheme (SEVS) and the Registered Automotive Workshops Scheme (RAWS)
  • investigate reports of safety defects and monitor safety recalls.

Quantity (approximate)

10 aviation and 25 road safety statistical and research publications are released

Thirty-two safety research publications released

In 2005-06 the ATSB released 32 statistical and research safety publications, 10 on aviation safety and 22 on road safety.

The ATSB released and published on its website five road safety research reports, including reports on community attitudes and road safety among Indigenous people, as well as 17 road safety statistics publications, including 13 road fatality statistical reports. Other statistical reports included:

  • Driveway deaths of child pedestrians, which analysed child pedestrian deaths due to a driveway collision
  • International Road Safety Comparisons: the 2003 Report and the 2004 Report, both of which compared road death rates for Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations and Australian states and territories
  • Road crash casualties and rates, Australia, 1925 to latest year, with annual rates for deaths and serious injuries.

In 2006-07 the ATSB will continue to publish the findings of research on transport safety issues, including the role of human error in vehicle crashes, and community attitudes to road safety.

The ATSB also released 10 aviation safety research reports, which included a study of trends in fatal aviation accidents in Australia, aviation weather forecasting, incidents involving aircraft depressurisation, and pilot distraction as a human factor issue in aviation. A further eight safety research reports were published under the aviation safety grants programme. Grant-funded studies included the application of DNA technology to identify bird species involved in birdstrikes and a study of the effectiveness of child restraints in aircraft. Collectively, these reports extend our knowledge about safety-related aviation matters and contribute towards a deeper understanding of current or emerging issues within the aviation community. Table 3.3 shows the trends in transport safety research.

For 2006-07 the ATSB has set a target of publishing 10 reports that aim toenhance the understanding of factors affectingaviation safetyand provide new insights that will contribute to better safety outcomes.

50 vehicle production and/or test facilities are audited

In 2005-06, 59 vehicle production and/or test facilities were audited, up from 58 in the previous year. The department expects this number to stabilise at around 50 audits a year from 2006-07.

3,400 vehicle types are approved for identification plates and supply to the Australian market

There was a 20 per cent increase in the number of vehicle types approved for identification plates and supply to the Australian market from 3,462 in 2004-05 to 4,090 (1,643 new approvals) in 2005-06.

50 Registered Automotive Workshops applications are assessed and 40 RAWS inspections are conducted

Demand increases for vehicle and workshop approvals

In 2005-06 the department approved 56 new RAWS workshops and conducted 268 inspections to reduce the backlog of approvals associated with the establishment of the scheme. In 2006-07 the department expects to conduct around 155 inspections, including inspections for new approvals, inspections for approval to handle additional vehicle models and audit activities. See Table 3.3 for trend information.

16,000 approvals to import vehicles are assessed

In 2005-06 the department issued 20,210 approvals to import vehicles, down 10 per cent from last year largely due to a change in legislation that removed the former 15-year-old vehicles scheme.



The actual price of this output in 2005-06 was $17.2 million.

Overall performance

Did you know?

Under the Trade Practices Act 1974, suppliers must recall goods that will or may cause injury. In 2005-06 the department continued to investigate reports of safety defects in vehicles and to monitor the effectiveness of each vehicle safety recall. The number of reports and recalls fluctuates from year to year. Table 3.3 shows the trend in the number of safety investigations and the number of safety recalls notified.

To notify us of a possible safety defect in your vehicle, or to find out if a particular make or model has been involved in a recall, visit dynamic.dotars.gov.au/recalls/index.asp.

Table 3.3 Trends in transport safety research and regulation





2006-07 Est.


Total research publications






Aviation research publications






Road research publications






Other research publications






Activity regulated under Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989

ADRs (re)issued






Compliance of motor vehicles

Audits of production and/or test facilities






Approvals to fit identification plates to vehicle type






Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme a

Workshop applications






Workshops approved b






Inspections conducted






Used import plate approvals






Inspections completed within 6 weeks c






Examination of evidence submitted completed within 20 working days c






Motor vehicle imports

Approvals to import vehicle type






Vehicles covered by import approvals






Import approvals issued within 17 working days






Activity regulated under Trade Practices Act 1974

Safety investigations





No set target

Safety recalls notified





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a This scheme began on 1 April 2002 and became mandatory on 8 May 2003 for used imported vehicles.
b Includes two-year renewals.
c The system used for measuring these values differs from that used in previous reporting periods.

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