Program 2.3—Road Safety (continued)

Detailed report on performance

The following report is against the headings from the applicable output from the 2010–11 PBS.

(a) National road safety leadership

National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020

The Department coordinated the completion of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, which presents a comprehensive 10-year plan to improve the safety of Australia's road transport system. The new strategy sets the ambitious targets of reducing the annual number of road crash deaths and serious injuries by at least 30 per cent by 2020. It includes an action agenda developed cooperatively with state and territory government representatives, taking into account the results of a national public consultation process managed by the Department between December 2010 and February 2011. The final strategy was approved and released by the ATC on 20 May 2011. Monitoring arrangements to evaluate outcomes of the strategy were developed by the Department's Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) in consultation with state and territory governments.

Road Safety Statistics and Research

The Department's BITRE maintained the Australian Road Deaths Database, updating it with fatal road crash data obtained each month from state and territory road safety authorities. The database provided the source information for the production and release of various statistical publications during the year, including 12-monthly bulletins on national road crash deaths and four quarterly bulletins on fatal heavy vehicle crashes. The Department also provided direct public access to an online version of the database.

The Department commissioned a research company to undertake the 2011 Survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety. This periodic national survey involves telephone interviews with a large representative sample of Australian adults about their road safety beliefs, attitudes and practices. Topics covered include: perceived crash factors; speeding; drink-driving; seatbelt use; traffic regulation and enforcement; driver fatigue; and mobile phone use. Findings from the survey are expected to be published in late 2011.

Indigenous Road Safety Forum

Seventy-five participants from a wide variety of government, non-government and private organisations attended the Indigenous Road Safety Forum on 10–12 November 2010 in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Four half-day workshops were conducted, addressing program evaluation, best-practice action plans for projects in Indigenous communities, driver licensing in Indigenous communities, and alcohol and drink-driving. The Department will facilitate progress of key recommendations through the appropriate channels including the NRSC, National Road Safety Executive Group and Austroads Safety Task Force.

Australasian Road Safety Research Policing and Education Conference 2010

The Department hosted 482 participants from a range of backgrounds including road safety policy experts, researchers, police and practitioners at the Australasian Road Safety Research Policing and Education Conference 2010, from 31 August to 3 September in Canberra. The conference featured high-profile international speakers on road safety, including New York Times bestselling author Tom Vanderbilt, from the United States, and senior policymaker Nel Aland, from The Netherlands.

National Road Safety Council

The NRSC has met regularly since February 2010, with the support and assistance of the Department. A comprehensive work program has been developed and is being progressed through engaging with states and territories, non-government bodies, industry and academia and a series of consultancies and research projects.

(b) Driver training programs

The keys2drive program operates nationally and is delivering the first driving-instructor accreditation scheme in Australia. The program provides free driving lessons to learner drivers accompanied by their supervisors, as well as a range of information materials and support for learner drivers and their supervisors. The Department has worked with the Australian Automobile Association to refine program components and improve access to accreditation for driving instructors through the roll-out of a web-based accreditation tool, to increase the number of driving instructors and improve access to the free lessons for learner drivers. All states and territories provide information on the keys2drive program when new drivers obtain their learners' permit.

(c) Seatbelts on regional school buses

A total of 38 school bus operators applied for funding to fit seatbelts to 72 buses. Funding approval was granted for all the buses. In 2010–11, the fitting of seatbelts was completed in 52 buses and $0.7 million in funding was paid to school bus operators. It is expected that the remaining 20 buses will be fitted with seatbelts in the 2011–12 financial year. The program is demand-driven and the level of funding provided reflects the number of applications received.

(d) Vehicle safety

New vehicles

Before vehicle manufacturers and importers can supply vehicles to the Australian market, they must meet all appropriate provisions of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989, and demonstrate that their vehicle types meet all applicable Australian Design Rules (ADRs). In 2010–11, 3,104 approvals or approval amendments were issued for identification plates and supply of vehicles to the market, and 70 audits were conducted of production and/or test facilities.

New vehicle regulations

The Department is continuously reviewing the ADRs and, where possible, harmonising them with international standards developed under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe framework. Harmonisation minimises trade barriers and allows vehicles manufactured for world markets to be supplied to Australia without the need for modifications. This leads to lower costs and a younger Australian fleet that is made up of safer, more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Imported vehicles

A total of 18,903 non-Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) import applications were received during 2010–11, at an average of 1,508 a month. There was a major surge in vehicle import applications and telephone inquiries from October 2010 to April 2011. Average processing time peaked at 35 working days. The Department returned to the target processing time of 15 working days in March 2011, and has maintained processing time to be within this service charter target.

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 2010–11, the Department assessed 120 applications under the scheme, including 60 new entries to the register.

Registered automotive workshops

Most vehicle models that are supplied to the market in limited volumes in Australia are used imported vehicles that are processed through the RAWS. Each registered automotive workshop has a ‘schedule of vehicles’ that specifies the vehicle models that the workshop has approved for import and modification. 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. The Department assessed 179 new and amending RAWS workshop applications: eight new RAWS workshops were approved and 59 existing RAWS workshops were renewed. The Department conducted 196 RAWS inspections.

Involvement in ANCAP (the Australasian New Car Assessment Program)

Complementing its role in vehicle safety regulation, the Department continued its participation in ANCAP. In May 2011, the Australian Government announced changes to its fleet-purchasing policy so that, among other things, new passenger vehicles were required to have 5 star ANCAP safety ratings from 1 July 2011, and light commercial vehicles were required to have 4 star ANCAP safety ratings from 1 July 2012, subject to operational requirements.

Case Study
Truck Productivity

Freight transport makes a significant contribution to Australian economic growth and prosperity, particularly through the movement of export commodities to ports and distribution of goods to regional population centres. Trucks play a vital role in this task, carting about one third of all domestic freight, particularly within and between urban areas.

Total road freight has increased six-fold since 1971. Over that period the average productivity of road freight vehicles has more than doubled, so that only three times as many commercial vehicles were required in 2007 compared with 1971. The productivity improvement of heavy freight vehicles (six-axle and B-double articulated trucks) has been greater still, increasing almost six-fold since 1971. Australian heavy vehicles are now among the most productive and efficient in the world.

Increases in freight productivity help lower transport costs, thereby contributing directly to improving Australia's national productivity. Despite the importance of increasing truck productivity, there had been no comprehensive study of the sources of heavy vehicle productivity growth. Moreover, with road freight volumes projected to nearly double again over the next 20 years, trends in road freight productivity would significantly influence the efficiency with which this additional freight is moved.

In order to better understand potential future truck productivity growth, the BITRE undertook a quantitative study of past productivity growth. The study involved collating annual data which was used to estimate the relationship between the freight volumes carried by different truck types and cost and regulatory factors, and measures of truck productivity.

The key findings of the study included the following.

  • Expanded network access and increased use of larger heavy vehicles—particularly the introduction of B-doubles in the late 1980s and early 1990s—facilitated by legislated increases in vehicle mass and dimension limits have been the main sources of growth in road freight productivity.
  • The long-term investment in road transport infrastructure—particularly construction and expansion of the National Land Transport Network—has contributed to strong growth in long-distance road freight and increased use of larger heavy vehicles.
  • Projections to 2030 imply that, in the absence of further reforms, road freight productivity growth will rapidly diminish, and meeting the projected growth in future road freight will require much larger increases in the number of heavy vehicles and drivers.

The research contained in the report provides solid evidence of the effectiveness of past reforms, how these were achieved, and prospects for new sources of productivity growth. The results are highly relevant to the work of the National Transport Commission and the new National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, especially in helping inform future heavy vehicle regulatory decisions.

BITRE presented the results of the research at the Australian Transport Research Forum in September 2010 and was awarded the prize for the best paper at the conference.

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Last Updated: 29 October, 2014