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Report on performance

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4. Outcome 2 - Transport

Output 2.3.2 - Road safety and vehicle policy, programs and regulation

Highlights

The Department undertook a major consultation and regulatory development process on electronic stability control (ESC).  ESC is a computer-based system that helps drivers maintain better control of their vehicles through automatically applying individual brakes if there is a risk of skidding or overturning, with proven life-saving benefits.  This process led to the Minister agreeing to amendments to the Australian Design Rules in June 2009, which mandates ESC in all new model light passenger vehicles from November 2011. 

The Department led the development of the National Road Safety Action Plan 2009 and 2010, which was approved and released by the Australian Transport Council in November 2008. The Action Plan sets out a comprehensive two-year agenda for road safety improvement, addressing all parts of Australia's road transport system.

A National Partnership agreement establishing a National Road Safety Council was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009.

The Department, in conjunction with Queensland Transport, convened the fourth Indigenous Road Safety Forum in Cairns from 29 to 31 October 2008.

Overview

Output 2.3.2 is delivered through the work of the Infrastructure and Surface Transport Policy division which fosters the development of a safer road transport system by:

  • providing national policy advice;
  • undertaking research, including the collection of national crash statistics;
  • regulating vehicle safety standards; and
  • developing and administering programs with specific road safety objectives.

The output included the following administered programs:

  • keys2drive; and
  • Seatbelts on Regional School Buses.

The budget and actual expenditure for each administered program is listed in Appendix A.

Summary of performance

Table 4.8 summarises the Department's results in delivering Output 2.3.2 against the key performance indicators and targets published in the 2008-09 PBS.

Table 4.8 Summary of performance - Output 2.3.2

Key performance indicator Target Result
Outputs

Collection and dissemination of national road safety data:

  • national road death statistics; and
  • national survey of community attitudes to road safety

Updated and released within two weeks of the end of each month.

Results are released by end of September each year.

National road death statistics were updated within two weeks of the end of each month and published on the Department's website.

National community survey findings were published in December 2008.

Coordinates national road safety stakeholder bodies and events:

  • Fourth Indigenous Road Safety Forum

By 31 December 2008.

The forum was successfully convened in October, as planned.

Novice Driver Program Trial commences in New South Wales and Victoria

By 30 June 2009.

Work continued on the development of an innovative, best-practice curriculum and arrangements for the research trial and evaluation of a program for new drivers.

Australia's motor vehicle safety standards are developed in accordance with government requirements for standards and regulation setting and are aligned with international standards

Ongoing.

The Department completed one major and four minor Australian Design Rules (ADRs) amendments. The major amendment mandated electronic stability control, for new light passenger vehicles from November 2011.

Vehicle certification arrangements:

  • number of vehicle certification approvals;

3,400.

3,700.

  • percentage of approvals within 32 days (service charter); and

100 per cent.

92 per cent.

  • number of audits of vehicle production and/or test facilities

50.

79.

Applications for inclusion on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles are assessed and concluded

72.

73.

RAWS is administered in accordance with legislative requirements:

  • number of workshop inspections;

155.

201.

  • proportion of workshop inspections completed in six weeks;

85 per cent.

65 per cent. Average processing time was reduced to 38 days, a significant improvement on previous years.

  • proportion of evidence examinations completed within 20 working days; and

85 per cent.

86 per cent.

  • number of used vehicle import plates issued

9,000.

7,765. This figure reflected reduced levels of demand.

Vehicle imports applications are processed efficiently and accurately:

  • number of applications processed; and

16,000.

18,219 (includes vehicles imported under RAWS).

  • proportion processed within 17 working days (approvals/refusals)

90 per cent.

80 per cent.

Safety and investigations function is administered efficiently:

  • number of safety investigations; and

100 safety investigations are conducted.

91. The number of investigations is demand-driven, depending on the number of safety defect reports received by the Department.

  • number of recalls monitored

170 recalls monitored.

129 new voluntary recalls by vehicle suppliers were notified in 2008-09.

Table 4.9 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the programs administered under Output 2.3.2 against the key performance indicators and targets published in the 2008-09 PBS.

Table 4.9 Summary of performance - Output 2.3.2 administered programs

Key performance indicators and targets
Applicable administered program Key performance indicator
Target

All programs

Efficient and effective management of administered programs

Programs are administered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance.

keys2drive

Facilitate development and delivery of the keys2drive education program for learner drivers

By 30 June 2009.

Seatbelts on Regional School Buses

Number of buses fitted or retrofitted with seat belts by 30 June 2009 as part of Seatbelts on Regional School Buses program

375.

Results
Administered program

Result

keys2drive

The Department successfully administered the funding agreement with the Australian Automobile Association for the development and implementation of the keys2drive education program. A pilot program commenced in Tasmania in June 2009.

Seatbelts on Regional School Buses

During 2008-09, 68 buses were fitted or retrofitted with seat belts, as part of the Seatbelts on Regional School Buses program. Two funding rounds were conducted and a further round commenced in 2008-09. Sixty-eight buses were fitted or retrofitted with seat belts. Due to the lack of demand, $7.5 million of the program's funding was reallocated to Regional Partnerships in the 2008-09 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements.

Detailed report on performance

The following report is against the headings from the applicable output from the 2008-09 PBS. Please note for this output, the section 'V Other activities' has been added to address additional international activities relating to road safety.

I    National road safety leadership

In 2008-09, the Department led the development of the National Road Safety Action Plan 2009 and 2010, which was approved and released by the ATC in November 2008. The Department also contributed to the development and implementation of informed road safety policies by collecting and disseminating national road crash statistics, undertaking research and coordinating a range of national road safety activities.

Data collection

The Department maintained the Australian Road Deaths Database, updating it with fatal road crash data obtained every month from state and territory road safety authorities. The database enabled progress monitoring under the National Road Safety Strategy 2001-2010 (see Figure 4.2) and provided the source information for the production and release of various statistical publications during the year, including: 12 monthly bulletins and two detailed annual reports on national road crash deaths; three bulletins on fatal heavy vehicle crashes; and a report comparing Australia's road safety outcomes with those of other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development nations. The Department also provided direct public access to an online version of the database.

Figure 4.2 Trends in road safety outcomes - fatal crashes

Figure 4.2 Trends in road safety outcomes - fatal crashes

The Department maintained its partnership arrangement with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to produce a series of national reports on road transport injuries. Four such publications were released in 2008-09, including a report on serious injuries among Indigenous people and a report on accidents involving trains.

In December 2008, the Department published detailed findings of its 2008 Survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety. This annual survey involves interviewing 1,600 people across the nation about their road safety beliefs, attitudes and practices in relation to many road safety issues, including perceived crash factors; speeding; drink driving; seatbelt usage; traffic regulation and enforcement; driver fatigue; and mobile phone usage.

Research

During 2008-09, the Department funded a study that will underpin the development of a new national road safety strategy to follow the National Road Safety Strategy 2001-2010. The study, being undertaken by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, involves data modelling that will provide the basis for road safety target setting and performance monitoring over the next decade.

The Department provided road safety research grants to the Queensland University of Technology and the Australian National University for projects dealing with drink driving offenders and in-car driver distraction. It also published five reports produced by previous recipients of a road safety research grant, on topics such as the safety benefits of eco-driving (driving practices aimed at maximising fuel economy); the relationship between driver experience, fatigue and hazard perception; risk-taking among young drivers; factors influencing learner driver experiences; and Indigenous transport issues.

Coordination of national events

The National Road Safety Strategy 2001-2010 and action plans identify the need to address Indigenous road safety issues and promote practical and locally relevant initiatives. The Department, in conjunction with the Queensland Department of Transport, successfully convened the fourth Indigenous Road Safety Forum in October 2008. A key objective of the forum was to make recommendations for practical and locally relevant initiatives. Over 70 people attended and represented a wide range of stakeholders, including community groups, government agencies in road safety, health and justice sectors, local government, the police, commercial organisations and academic institutions.

Establishment of a national road safety council

On 30 April 2009, COAG signed a National Partnership agreement to establish the National Road Safety Council. The primary role of the council will be to facilitate the implementation of key road safety measures set out in the National Road Safety Strategy 2001-2010 and the supporting action plans. The council will also raise the profile of road safety as a major public health issue, across the government, industry, business and community sectors. The council is expected to commence operations in late 2009.

II    Driver training programs

During 2008-09, the Department contributed to the development and implementation of two driver education programs aimed at reducing serious road crashes among young motorists.

keys2drive

The Department continued to administer the government's funding contribution to the keys2drive program for learner drivers, which is being developed and implemented by the Australian Automobile Association. In May 2008, the Australian Government announced that it would provide $17.0 million over five years for this national initiative.

The program aims to improve the safety of young drivers by helping them to gain appropriate supervised driving experience before they graduate to a 'P-plate' licence. It provides access to a novel website that provides driver resources, including information and interactive games as well as a free lesson for both the learner driver and their supervisor - in many cases, a parent who has not had a refresher on road rules and driver training in many years. The innovative program elements are being refined after conclusion of a pilot program in Tasmania, with a phased national roll out planned from late 2009.

Further information about the program is available from the website, at www.keys2drive.info.

Novice driver trial

The National Novice Driver Program Trial will develop, implement and evaluate a pilot driver education program for young 'P-plate' drivers. It is one of the largest and most complex scientific studies undertaken in the area of driver education and the program's implementation and evaluation will be managed by Victoria. It incorporates extensive input from local and international experts on young drivers, to ensure the program will be effective in improving young driver safety and reducing serious crashes.

In 2008-09, the Department worked with the other stakeholders, including New South Wales and Victoria, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Insurance Australia Group and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, to bring the program curriculum to an advanced stage of development.

As opposed to traditional skills-based training, this program will focus on helping novice drivers to gain an improved understanding of key risk factors and their own limitations as drivers.

The project was launched in December 2004 as a joint initiative by the Australian Government, Victoria and New South Wales and the first part of the study is expected to commence in 2010. The project will be delivered to new P-plate licence holders aged 17-21 years in New South Wales and 18-22 years in Victoria.

III    Seatbelts on regional school buses

The Department administers funding for the installation of seatbelts on school buses in regional areas. Applicants (school bus operators) are eligible for funding of up to $25,000 per bus, conditional on the bus meeting state or territory vehicle registration requirements. The funding may be used to purchase new buses or retrofit existing buses.

During 2008-09, funding of $1.2 million was provided, covering 68 buses and 41 bus operators. The program is demand-driven and the level of funding provided reflected the number of applications received.

IV    Vehicle safety

The Australian Government regulates vehicle standards applying to new vehicles (locally produced or imported) and used vehicle imports on first supply to the market in Australia. Vehicle standards (ADRs) are determined under the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (the Act). Vehicle safety is a key focus of the ADRs, together with improving the environmental friendliness of vehicles.

New vehicles

Before they can supply vehicles to the Australian market, vehicle manufacturers and importers must meet all appropriate provisions of the Act and demonstrate that their vehicle types meet all applicable ADRs. There was a decrease of 10 per cent in the number of vehicle types approved for identification plates and supply to the Australian market, to 3,700 in 2008-09 from 4,096 in 2007-08. This reflected a decrease in applications for approval, as manufacturers delayed the introduction of new models because of a decline in demand.

The processes for compliance certification for all new vehicles have a target completion time of 32 working days from the receipt of the last piece of necessary compliance evidence. Overall, in 2008-09 approximately 92 per cent of new vehicle certification processes were completed within the target timeframe, an improvement compared to 84 per cent for 2007-08.

New vehicle regulations

The Department is progressively reviewing the ADRs to harmonise them, where possible, with international standards developed under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe framework. Harmonisation 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 better access to safer, more environmentally friendly vehicles.

As part of this process, in 2008-09 the Department completed:

  • one major amendment to the passenger car braking standard, to mandate electronic stability control for new vehicles from 1 November 2011 and all new vehicles from 1 November 2013;
  • minor amendments to four ADRs covering standards for occupant protection, heavy vehicle braking and fuel consumption labelling;
  • a majority of the consultation process for the review of the ADRs for omnibus construction requirements and occupant protection in omnibuses;
  • the final stages of the determination process for minor amendments to three ADRs covering vehicle lighting, vehicle markings and general safety requirements; and
  • a majority of the identified technical development of a new ADR for front under-run protection devices for heavy commercial vehicles to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding under them, thereby engaging the occupant protection features of the smaller vehicle.

The harmonisation process is being carried out in consultation with representatives of the state and territory governments, vehicle manufacturing and operating industries, and consumer groups. It has reached a stage where all major ADRs relating to specific components and systems are complete. The remaining ADRs cover a combination of general safety issues and vehicle dimensional requirements that will be dealt with as part of the ongoing development of the ADRs.

Imported vehicles

During 2008-09, the Department processed 18,219 applications to import vehicles. Applications may cover more than one vehicle. In 2008-09, the Department issued 18,878 vehicle import approval certificates.

The proportion of applications processed within the target timeframe of 17 working days increased slightly, to 80 per cent.

Specialist and enthusiast vehicles

The Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles Scheme enables Australians to have access to some new or used vehicles that meet particular interests and are otherwise not available in Australia. The Department assesses vehicle models to determine their eligibility under the scheme, and eligible models are entered on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles. In 2008-09, the Department assessed 73 applications under the scheme; 68 were successful.

Registered automotive workshops

Most vehicle models that are supplied to the market in limited volumes in Australia are used imported vehicles processed through the Registered 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. RAWS vehicle models (other than used motorcycles for which volumes are not restricted) must be listed on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles.

The inspection and evidence examination processes are resource intensive and closely scrutinise compliance with the RAWS requirements. Approximately 65 per cent of inspections during 2008-09 were conducted within the target timeframe of 42 days - the average inspection waiting time was 38 days. Approximately 86 per cent of revised evidence documents for RAWS were examined within the target timeframe of 20 working days.

In 2008-09, the Department assessed 285 new and amending RAWS workshop applications: 11 new RAWS workshops were approved and 71 existing RAWS workshops were renewed. The Department conducted 201 RAWS inspections. The decrease in the number of inspections, from 252 in 2007-08, was due to reduced demand.

Audit

In 2008-09, 79 vehicle production and/or test facilities were audited; a 13 per cent increase compared to 70 in 2007-08. The number of audits was increased to take into account the risks associated with the importation of trailers and vehicles from developing markets such as China and India.

The Department plans to conduct 70 production, design and/or test facility audits in 2009-10. A new procedure for finalising and classifying audits has been introduced to increase the effectiveness of the audits.

Safety investigations and recalls

The Department assists the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on matters relating to the recall of automotive-related products under the provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974. In 2008-09, the Department conducted 91 safety investigations and monitored 129 new voluntary recalls notified by vehicle suppliers (152 in 2007-08).

V    Other activities

The Department was involved in several international activities to better understand and improve road safety, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, the Department:

  • liaised with the Indonesian Ministry of Transport to develop a road safety training course for Indonesian Government officials, under the Indonesia Transport Safety Assistance Package; and
  • participated in the APEC Transportation Working Group's Road Safety and Vehicle Standards Harmonisation subgroups. The Department led two projects in the Road Safety Subgroup: a matrix-based project to assist individual economies to share information on their road safety strategies, and a project to develop a compendium of best practices to improve motorcycle and scooter safety.

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