Chapter 4: Transport—Continued

Program 2.3—Road Safety


Australia is leading an international working group to develop a global vehicle standard on side impacts with narrow objects, such as poles. The standard will significantly improve vehicle crashworthiness in side impacts with narrow objects as well as enhancing safety in other types of side impact. Side impacts are responsible for 20 per cent of the Australian road toll and a high proportion of serious brain injuries.

In 2011–12, the Department: chaired meetings of the working group in Seoul, London and Munich; continued to conduct a joint crash test program in partnership with Transport Canada to provide key data for development of the standard; supervised major research work on the benefits and costs of the standard; and made significant progress in drafting.

The Department worked closely with state and territory road safety agencies to begin implementing the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, which is aiming for a 30 per cent reduction in road crash deaths and serious injuries by 2020.


Program 2.3 was delivered through the work of the Surface Transport Policy Division and the Policy and Research Division. Program 2.3 contributed to the development of a safer road transport system by working to make vehicles and occupants safer and drivers better informed.

Summary of performance

Tables 4.7 and 4.8 summarise the Department's results in delivering Program 2.3, against the key performance indicators and deliverables and their targets published in the 2011–12 PBS.

Table 4.7 Summary of performance—Program 2.3 key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Target Result
Contribute to the development of a safe road transport system. Statistical analysis and information published is accurate and robust. Stakeholders are assisted to evaluate and improve transport safety outcomes. 11–12 Achieved 10–11 Achieved 09–10 Achieved
Statistical reports published by BITRE contained accurate and robust analysis and information. Statistical information, research findings and policy advice went to stakeholders to support improved road safety.

The Department assists the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on recalls of automotive-related products under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. In 2011–12, the Department completed 45 safety investigations and monitored 124 new voluntary recalls by vehicle suppliers.
Australia's motor vehicle safety standards are aligned with international standards. Ongoing policies and legislation are sufficiently robust to enable a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible light and heavy vehicle sector. Following the application of 29 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe regulations in 2010, the Department implemented legislation in 2012 to automatically accept subsequent amendments to these regulations within the Australian Design Rule system, ensuring the latest technology is available to the Australian market.
Road vehicles supplied to the Australian market meet appropriate safety, emissions, anti-theft and environmental standards. Ongoing provision of technical and administrative framework. The Department continued work aimed at ensuring all road vehicles supplied in Australia met legislative and administrative requirements.
Results Key
Achieved All targets for 2011–12 were met or exceeded.
Substantially achieved Targets were mostly met, and any issues are being managed.
Partially achieved Some targets were met, and any issues are being managed.
Not achieved None or minimal progress was made against targets in 2011–12.

Did you know?

The Yearbook 2012 states that in 2008–09, 190.8 billion tonne kilometres of freight were moved by road.

Source: Australian Infrastructure Statistics—Yearbook 2012, Table T 2.2 a.

Note: 1 tonne-kilometre is defined as moving 1 tonne, 1 kilometre.

Table 4.8 Summary of performance—Program 2.3 deliverables

Deliverable Target Result
Coordinate progress monitoring and reporting on the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 for the Australian Transport Council (ATC–now known as SCOTI). Coordinate implementation of ATC agreed strategy. Progress reporting commences in 2011. A comprehensive implementation status report was prepared in consultation with state and territory road safety agencies and submitted to Transport Ministers in May 2012.
Publish regular statistical bulletins on national road deaths. Updated statistics published within two weeks of the end of each month. Regular BITRE statistical bulletins on national road deaths were published within two weeks of the end of each month.
Develop and conduct relevant surveys on road safety matters. Analyse survey data and publish by December 2011. A report on the 2011 Survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety was produced in December 2011 and released in February 2012.
Contribute to the development of international vehicle standards and implement new and updated international standards in Australia, through Australian Design Rules, where warranted. The Department actively participates in the development of international vehicle standards, robustly assesses standards for implementation in Australia (including through Regulation Impact Statements) and implements standards consistent with international timetables. The Department continued to lead work to develop a global vehicle standard on pole side impact, which will improve vehicle crashworthiness in side impacts with narrow objects and in side impacts generally. This included chairing an international working group; ongoing conduct of a comprehensive crash test program in conjunction with Transport Canada; development of benefit and cost analysis; and significant progress in drafting the standard.

The Department introduced Australian Design Rule requirements for Seatbelt Reminder Systems and ISOFIX child restraint systems. An expanded definition of power-assisted pedal cycles was adopted as a first step in a national project on alternative vehicles.

Work progressed on investigating the desirability of regulating: electronic stability control for light commercial vehicles; brake assist systems on light passenger and light commercial vehicles; and improved braking systems under the National Heavy Vehicle Braking Strategy.

Research on alternative vehicles, forward collision systems and heavy vehicle stability was co-sponsored with state governments.
Maintain a system to ensure new vehicle models entering the Australian market are assessed as meeting, and continue to meet, regulatory requirements. Applications for approval to place identification plates are considered in a timely manner and a risk based audit and enforcement program is conducted. In 2011–12, 2,789 vehicle certification approvals were issued, and 76 new and 29 amended entries were included on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles.

Over 90 per cent of applications for approval to place identification plates were approved within 32 days (as outlined in the service charter). A risk based audit and enforcement program involved 58 audits of vehicle production and test facilities.
Maintain a system to ensure that Registered Automotive Workshops (RAW) and the used vehicles they supply to the Australian market meet regulatory standards. Applications for RAW approval and to import and plate used imported vehicles are considered in a timely manner, including conduct of mandatory inspections; and a risk based audit and enforcement program. In 2011–12, 186 workshop inspections were completed and 9,284 used import plates were issued, 80 per cent of workshop inspections were completed within the six-week target, and 83 per cent of evidence examinations were completed within 20 working days.
Maintain a system to allow for the importation of standard vehicles and to ensure the importation of non-standard vehicles is in accordance with legislation. Applications for vehicle import approval are assessed in a timely manner. The Department received a total of 18,781 non-registered automotive workshop import applications during 2011–12, an average of 1,565 a month. Over 40,000 phone inquiries were received, averaging over 800 a week.

The service charter for processing vehicle import applications sets a target service standard of 15 working days, although it notes that this may not be met in peak periods. Average processing time was maintained within the standard throughout the year apart from a brief period in June 2012.

The Department upgraded its website on vehicle imports to provide a simplified and more informative site for importers to identify the option that best suits them.
Efficient and effective management of administered items. Items are administered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance. Administered items were delivered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance.
Facilitate the ongoing development and delivery of the keys2drive education program for learner drivers. Assist the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) in the development, national rollout and delivery of the program to agreed performance milestones. Performance milestones were met and a program evaluation commenced.
The number of school buses equipped with seatbelts for students in rural and regional areas is increased as a consequence of the Seatbelts on regional school buses administered item. Applications are processed and buses are fitted or retrofitted within specified guidelines. The Department received 81 applications from school bus operators, resulting in funding to fit seatbelts to 113 buses.

Table 4.9 provides a summary of the results achieved by each of the administered items under Program 2.3.

Table 4.9 Summary of performance—Program 2.3 administered items

Administered Item Result
Keys2drive. A total of 98,452 free driving lessons were delivered. Accredited driving instructors appointed under the program totalled 1,021 at the end of June 2012.
National Road Safety Council—contribution. The Australian Government contributed $612,500 to the National Road Safety Council.
Seatbelts on regional school buses. In 2011–12, $1.8 million was provided to school bus operators to fit seatbelts to 113 buses.

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

Did you know?

Over the last decade, national annual road fatalities decreased by 25 per cent, and fatalities per population decreased by 35 per cent.

Source: Road Deaths Australia—2011 Statistical Summary.

Detailed report on performance

The following report is against the headings from the applicable output from the 2011–12 PBS.

a) National road safety leadership

National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020

The Department supported the delivery of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 by promoting the strategy through its website and distributing printed copies to key road safety stakeholders. It worked with state and territory road safety agencies on plans for the priority actions. It prepared the first comprehensive implementation status report for ministers, submitted to the May 2012 meeting of the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure.

Road safety statistics and research

The Department's BITRE maintained the Australian Road Deaths Database, updating it each month with fatal road crash data from state and territory road safety authorities. This was the source for a range of statistical publications during the year, as well as an online version of the database. BITRE established a new National Road Crash Database to support monitoring and reporting requirements of the National Road Safety Strategy.

The Department published the findings of the 2011 Survey of Community Attitudes to Road Safety. This periodic national survey involved 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.

International road safety

The Department was a national point of contact on activities linked to the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020. This included coordinating Australia's contribution to the second Global Status Report on Road Safety compiled by the World Health Organization.

The Department contributed directly to regional road safety initiatives by managing road safety training workshops for government employees in Indonesia, as a component of the Australian Government's Indonesian Transport Safety Assistance Package (ITSAP). It played a lead role in APEC working groups to facilitate road safety improvements in the Asia-Pacific region.

National Road Safety Council

The Department continued to provide secretariat services to the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) Executive Director, appointed in January 2012. The NRSC met seven times in 2011–12 at various locations around Australia. The NRSC jointly funded Drivesafe NT Remote, an indigenous driver training trial in remote communities, with the Northern Territory Government and the Territory Insurance Office. It developed safer driving agreements for young drivers, and researched incentives for purchase of safer cars by young drivers.

b) Driver training programs


The Department worked with the AAA, managers of the keys2drive program, to increase the number of free lessons provided to learner drivers and to begin evaluation required under the program. The 50,000th keys2drive lesson was celebrated in Melbourne in December 2011, and the 100,000 lesson milestone was expected just after the end of the 2011–12 financial year. The milestone of 1,000 accredited driver training instructors was achieved in May 2012.

c) Seatbelts on regional school buses

The Department received 81 funding applications under the Seatbelts on Regional School Buses program, resulting in $1.8 million of funding assistance to school bus operators to equip 113 buses with seatbelts. This program is demand-driven and the level of funding provided reflects the number of eligible applications received.

d) Vehicle safety

New vehicles

Before new vehicle manufacturers and importers can supply vehicles to the Australian market, they must meet provisions of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989, and demonstrate that their vehicle types meet all applicable Australian Design Rules (ADRs). In 2011–12, 2,789 approvals or approval amendments were issued for identification plates and supply of vehicles to the Australian market, and 58 audits were conducted of production and test facilities.

New vehicle regulations

The Department continuously reviews the ADRs and, where possible, harmonises them with international standards developed under the United Nations World Forum for the Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations. 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

As well as the importation of new vehicles, the Department manages the arrangements which allow the importation of second-hand vehicles in defined circumstances. The Department received 18,781 non-registered automotive workshop import applications during 2011–12; an average of 1,565 a month. Over 40,000 phone inquiries were received. The Department upgraded its website on vehicle imports to help importers to identify better their best import options.

Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles Scheme

The Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles Scheme enables Australians to have access to 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 2011–12, the Department assessed 182 applications under the scheme and added 76 new entries to the register.

Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme

Most vehicle models that are supplied to the market in limited volumes in Australia are used imported vehicles that are processed through the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS). Each registered automotive workshop has a schedule of vehicles that specifies the 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 closely scrutinise compliance with RAWS requirements. In 2011–12, the Department assessed 135 new and amending RAWS workshop applications. 11 new RAWS workshops were approved and 59 existing ones were renewed. The Department conducted 186 RAWS inspections.

Involvement in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program

Complementing its role in vehicle safety regulation, the Department continued participating in the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), which provides safety ratings for vehicles in the Australian market, based on crash test performance and availability of safety features. The maximum safety rating is five stars. Since 1 July 2011, the Australian Government's fleet-purchasing policy has required that new passenger vehicles have a five star ANCAP safety rating. A four star requirement was introduced for light commercial vehicles on 1 July 2012, subject to operational requirements.

Did you know?

In 2010–11, there were 1,000,600 new vehicles sold in Australia, including 566,300 passenger cars.

Source: Australian Infrastructure Statistics—Yearbook 2012, Tables T 4.9 & T 4.10.

Case Study—National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020

Each year, about 1,300 people are killed in crashes on Australian roads and more than 33,000 are hospitalised. Road crashes cost the economy about $27 billion a year.

To help reduce this enormous social problem, the Australian Government led the development of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, which was approved by federal, state and territory transport Ministers in May 2011. It sets national goals and priorities for road safety improvement over the coming decade. It is based on Safe System principles—human factors, human frailty, forgiving systems and shared responsibility—and guided by the vision that no person should be killed or seriously injured on Australia's roads.

The strategy also sets a target to reduce deaths and serious injuries by at least 30 per cent by 2020. Research and traffic growth projections suggest that reaching this target will be challenging, but is achievable with concerted effort.

Improving road safety is the shared responsibility of all levels of government, in partnership with communities. The strategy's 10-year plan aims to move Australia towards the long-term vision of an inherently safe road transport system built around four fundamentals, safe roads, safe speeds, safe vehicles, and safe people.

The strategy identifies 59 priorities and much work is already in progress. For example:

  • development and implementation of improved safety standards for new vehicles is well underway
  • the Australian Government has led the way in promoting best-practice fleet purchasing policies by adopting in 2011 a five-star vehicle safety requirement
  • all states and territories have strengthened their drink-driving and speed enforcement programs, and
  • other projects scheduled for completion over the next two years will cover improved road design and speed limit guidelines, best-practice approaches to speed enforcement, enhanced use of alcohol interlocks (which prevent the car from starting if the driver has been drinking), reductions in unlicensed driving, and driver licensing resources to support Indigenous people.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) is developing a new national road crash database to enable reporting against key statistical indicators. Preliminary data shows that road deaths in 2011 declined by 9.5 per cent relative to the strategy baseline. Other improvements included a 21 per cent reduction in deaths among 17 to 25 year-old drivers and motorcycle riders, and a 13 per cent reduction in both motorcyclist deaths and deaths from single-vehicle crashes.

The Australian Transport Council meeting of federal, state and territory ministers released the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–20 at their meeting on 20 May 2011 in Alice Springs.

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L-R: Gerald McCarthy (NT), Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis (ALGA), Tom Kenyon (SA), Annastacia Palaszczuk (Qld), Craig Wallace (Qld), Catherine King (Cwlth), David O'Byrne (Tas) Anthony Albanese (Cwlth), Terry Mulder (Vic), Duncan Gay (NSW), Gladys Berejiklian (NSW), Denis Napthine (Vic).

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Last Updated: 17 November, 2014