Chapter 4: Transport

Program 2.3—Road Safety

Highlights

In 2012–13, the Department continued its leadership of an international working group to develop a global vehicle regulation on side impacts with narrow objects, such as poles. The regulation 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 May 2013, the Department presented a draft regulation to the United Nations expert group on passive vehicle safety, where it was recommended for adoption by the United Nations World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations at its meeting in November 2013.

The Department released, and received comment on, three draft Regulation Impact Statements to mandate:

  • Electronic Stability Control for light commercial vehicles
  • Brake Assist Systems for light commercial and passenger vehicles, and
  • Anti-lock Braking Systems for heavy vehicles.

Final Regulation Impact Statements and amendments to the Australian Design Rules to mandate new standards will be presented to the Australian Government for consideration in the first half of 2013–14.

The Department organised a National Road Safety Forum, hosted by the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, at Parliament House, Canberra, on 24 August 2012. The forum brought together stakeholders to discuss some of the important road safety matters identified in the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020, and also gave attention to the problem of deaths and injuries to children in driveway accidents. The forum proved very useful as a mechanism for stakeholder engagement on national issues. All transport ministers later agreed to hold annual national forums, with the 2013 forum to be hosted by Tasmania.

Through the Seatbelts on regional school buses program, the Department continued to facilitate about $1.0 million in funding assistance to school bus operators in 2012–13 to fit seatbelts. This funding was made available to operators of school bus routes outside state capital metropolitan areas with speed limits over 80 kilometres per hour.

Overview

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 2012–13 Portfolio Budget Statements (PB Statements).

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. 12–13 Achieved 11–12 Achieved 10–11 Achieved 09–10 Achieved
Statistical reports published by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (the Bureau) contained accurate and robust analysis and information. A range of statistical information, research findings and policy advice was provided to stakeholders to support improved road safety outcomes.
Australia's motor vehicle safety standards are aligned with international standards. Australian Design Rules are aligned with international standards, where warranted, on a timely basis. 12–13 Achieved 11–12 Achieved 10–11 Achieved 09–10 Achieved
Australia's standards were further aligned in the areas of bus rollover strength and exhaust configuration of light vehicles. Legislation implemented in 2012 to automatically recognise changes to international regulations maintained the alignment of Australian Design Rules with 29 international regulations, 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 an effective technical and administrative framework, providing high levels of assurance and timely decision making. 12–13 Achieved 11–12 Achieved 10–11 Achieved 09–10 Achieved
The Department continued work aimed at ensuring all road vehicles supplied in Australia met legislative and administrative requirements. This included maintenance of a certification and audit system for new vehicles and investigation of complaints that vehicles did not comply with Australian Design Rules.
Result Key
Achieved All targets for 2012–13 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 2012–13.

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. Coordinate implementation of agreed strategy. Progress reporting commences in 2012. The first annual implementation status report was prepared in consultation with state and territory government road safety agencies and submitted to the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure in November 2012.
Publish regular statistical bulletins on national road deaths. Updated statistics published within two weeks of the end of each month. Regular Bureau statistical bulletins on national road deaths were published within two weeks of the end of each month.
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 made significant progress in leading work to develop a global vehicle regulation on pole side impact, which will improve vehicle crashworthiness in side impacts with narrow objects, and side impacts generally. The regulation is expected to be adopted internationally in November 2013.

Draft Regulation Impact Statements were issued on: electronic stability control for light commercial vehicles; brake assist systems on light passenger and light commercial vehicles; and anti-lock braking systems for heavy vehicles. Comments were received in May and June 2013 and will be considered in the final Regulation Impact Statements.
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 2012–13, 2,979 vehicle certification approvals were issued, and 67 new and 39 amended entries were included on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles.

Over 91 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 54 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 2012–13, 152 workshop inspections were completed and 10,391 used import plates were issued, 77 per cent of workshop inspections were completed within the six-week target; and 73 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 18,048 non-registered automotive workshop import applications during 2012–13, an average of 1,504 a month. Over 33,000 phone inquiries were received, averaging over 650 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 times were generally maintained within the standard throughout the year.

On 1 May 2013 the Department introduced an online application system to help clients provide more complete information with their applications and improve processing times.
Facilitate the ongoing development and delivery of the keys2drive education program for learner drivers. Assist the Australian Automobile Association in the delivery of the program to agreed performance milestones. The Department worked with the Australian Automobile Association to establish a new keys2drive business plan, with quarterly management meetings and performance reporting. These arrangements helped to ensure that program delivery was satisfactory.
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 and assessed 51 applications from school bus operators, resulting in funding to fit seatbelts to 57 buses (and another 49 buses to be funded in 2013–14).
Efficient and effective management of administered items. Items are administered in accordance with relevant legislation, published guidelines and ANAO guidance. The Seatbelts on regional school buses program was administered in accordance with the published guidelines as approved by the Australian Government.

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 Two payments were made to the Australian Automobile Association, totalling $3.5 million.

At the end of 2012–13 there were 1,233 accredited driving instructors. There were 84,754 lessons delivered during the year, bringing the total keys2drive lessons delivered to 183,206.
Seatbelts on regional school buses In 2012–13, $980,047 was provided to school bus operators to fit seatbelts to 57 buses.

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

Case Study

keys2drive

The increased risk of crash-involvement experienced by young drivers after transitioning from a learner's licence to an unsupervised (P-plate) licence is well documented. Research shows that one of the keys to reducing this risk is to ensure that novice drivers acquire extensive on-road driving experience under supervision before they graduate to a solo licence. This is the aim of the keys2drive learner driver program, which the Department administers through the Australian Automobile Association.

keys2drive commenced operation in Tasmania in 2008 after the Australian Government committed $17.0 million to fund the development and delivery of the program. A unique feature of keys2drive is its focus on building a three-way partnership between a learner, their supervisor (usually a parent) and a professional driving instructor. The program provides the learner and accompanying supervisor with two free back-to-back lessons from an accredited instructor, incorporating both theoretical and on-road elements. This approach offers guidance for supervising drivers as well as practical on-road coaching for learners.

The learning strategy adopted by keys2drive has been termed the ‘find your own way’ model. It draws on research suggesting that the high crash rates associated with novice drivers are partly caused by an underdeveloped ability to exercise sound independent judgement and a lack of awareness of road risks.

‘Find your own way’:

  • encourages learner drivers to take stock of their surroundings and exercise good judgement while on the road
  • requires driving instructors to ‘coach’ rather than ‘instruct’ a learner driver, and
  • allows novice drivers to both think for themselves and gain feedback when mistakes occur, making them better prepared for independent driving.

A major achievement of the keys2drive program has been the creation of a voluntary national accreditation scheme for participating driving instructors. To date, more than 1,200 instructors around Australia have been fully accredited to deliver the program and 180,000 free lessons have been provided to learner drivers and their supervisors.

The keys2drive website www.keys2drive.com.au also supports the development of safer driving by providing an extensive body of information for learners, parents and driving instructors.

Keys 2 Drive

Detailed Report on Performance

The following report is against the components of Program 2.3 in the 2012–13 PB Statements.

(a) National Road Safety Leadership

National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020

The Department supported delivery of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 by working with state and territory government road safety agencies implementing priority actions in the strategy; monitoring progress towards the strategy target (a 30 per cent reduction in road crash deaths and serious injuries by 2020); and preparing the first annual implementation status report for ministers. This was submitted to the November 2012 meeting of the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure.

National Road Safety Forum

The Department organised the inaugural National Road Safety Forum, which was hosted by the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport at Parliament House, Canberra, in August 2012. The purpose was to bring together key stakeholders to discuss some of the important road safety matters identified in the national strategy. The forum also gave attention to the problem of deaths and injuries to children in driveway incidents.

Road Safety Statistics and Research

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

International Road Safety Initiatives

The Department contributed directly to road safety initiatives in our region by: managing road safety training workshops for government employees in Indonesia, as a component of the Australian Government's Indonesian Transport Safety Assistance Package; and by playing a lead role in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation working groups on road safety improvements in the Asia-Pacific region. As the national focal point for Australia's participation in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020, the Department provided advice to the World Health Organization and other international forums about relevant Australian activities.

National Road Safety Council

The Department continued to provide secretariat services to the National Road Safety Council and support to the National Road Safety Ambassadors. The National Road Safety Council formally met three times in 2012–13, at various locations around Australia. These projects started in 2012–13:

  • a classification methodology to improve cross-jurisdictional comparisons
  • a study of vehicle choices among young drivers, their access to safer vehicle technologies and the role that motor vehicle insurance has in shaping those choices
  • an evaluation of existing public education materials on safer speeds
  • production and distribution to hire car companies of ‘drive on left’ stickers
  • an extension of an Australasian New Car Assessment Program national advertising campaign to provide new car buyers with information about the relative safety of different vehicles
  • a Road Safety Management Leadership Program conducted by Monash University, and
  • an online advertising campaign promoting the Used Car Safety Ratings.

Projects which continued from 2011–12 included a trial of Drivesafe NT Remote, an Indigenous driver training program delivered in remote communities in the Northern Territory (jointly funded with the Northern Territory Government and the Territory Insurance Office); research on safer driving agreements for young drivers; and research into incentives to assist the purchase of safer cars by young drivers.

When the National Road Safety Council ceased operation in November 2012, the Department took over management of all of its active projects, the majority of which were completed during 2012–13.

Driveway Design Guidelines

The Department worked with child safety experts and building, design and planning stakeholders to examine factors involved in child driveway run-overs and collisions and the implications for safer home design. This led to a proposed framework of design principles and measures, which could form the basis of a best-practice voluntary design guide. On 24 June 2013, a discussion paper was released on the Department's website.

(b) Driver Training Programs

keys2drive

The Department worked with the Australian Automobile Association to oversee delivery of the keys2drive learner driver program. In July 2012, the program reached the milestone of 100,000 lessons delivered; and in February 2013 an event to celebrate the delivery of the 150,000th lesson was held in Ringwood, Victoria.

(c) Seatbelts on regional school buses

The Seatbelts on regional school buses program was opened for funding applications (Round 10) on 10 December 2012, and applications closed on 4 February 2013. The Department received 51 applications covering 123 buses, and it assessed 46 applications for 106 buses to be eligible for funding. About half the approved buses were funded in 2012–13, for a total of $980,047. The remaining approved buses will be funded in 2013–14.

Case Study

Seatbelts on Regional School Buses Program

Although serious crashes involving school buses are infrequent in Australia, there is clearly potential for many children to be severely hurt or killed in a major crash. The National Road Safety Strategy 2011–2020 notes strong community demand for seatbelts in school buses, particularly those travelling at higher speeds on regional and rural roads.

Through the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989, the Australian Government is responsible for the standards of new vehicle designs before supply to the market. Australian Design Rule 68/00 requires that seatbelts are fitted to buses designed for coach travel, but not buses used for route services that require frequent stopping and starting and allow standing passengers. Whether or not seatbelt-equipped buses are required on school bus routes is a matter for state and territory governments to determine.

While some state governments are phasing in seatbelt requirements as they renew contracts with bus operators, many school bus routes in regional and rural Australia continue to be serviced by buses not equipped with seatbelts. In 2007–08, the Australian Government introduced the Seatbelts on regional school buses program, to help operators to voluntarily upgrade the safety of their buses. The Department administers this program, which aims to encourage operators servicing high-risk school routes to run buses fitted with Australian Design Rule-compliant seatbelts.

Bus operators contracted with a state or territory government to provide services on a recognised regional school bus route can apply for funding to fit seatbelts to new buses or to retrofit existing buses. To be eligible, applicants must operate a school bus route outside state capital metropolitan areas, with speed limits in excess of 80 kilometres per hour. Approved applicants are eligible for funding of up to $25,000 (including GST) per bus to cover the cost of seatbelt fitment, contingent on the bus being able to meet state or territory government registration requirements.

Over the six years of the program (to the end of 2012–13), a total of $5.8 million has been provided to install seatbelts in 363 buses. Under the latest funding round a further 49 buses were approved in 2013–14.

Seatbelts on Regional School Buses Program

(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. In 2012–13, 2,979 approvals or approval amendments were issued for identification plates and supply of vehicles to the Australian market, and 54 audits were conducted of production, design and test facilities.

New Vehicle Regulations

The Department continuously reviews the Australian Design Rules and, where possible, harmonises them with international standards developed under the United Nations World Forum for the Harmonization 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. In 2012–13, the Department received comment on three draft Regulation Impact Statements.

Imported Vehicles

As well as standards for importing new vehicles, the Department manages arrangements which allow importation of second-hand vehicles in defined circumstances. The Department received 18,048 (non-registered automotive workshop) import applications during 2012–13, an average of over 1,500 a month. On 1 May 2013, the Department introduced an online application system helping applicants to provide complete information with each application and improving processing times.

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 eligibility under the scheme, and eligible models are entered on the Register of Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles. In 2012–13, the Department added 67 new entries to the register.

Registered Automotive Workshops Scheme

Most vehicle models 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 2012–13, the Department conducted 152 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, 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 Australian New Car Assessment Program safety rating. A four-star requirement was introduced for light commercial vehicles on 1 July 2012, subject to operational requirements.

Review of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989

The Department reviewed the administration of the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 during the year and implemented changes to improve regulation. One change was implementing, from 1 May 2013, a ‘smart’ online application form to import vehicles, including an online payment facility. The Department released a discussion paper on the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 in May 2013 and sought feedback from interested stakeholders through workshops and submissions. The Act was last reviewed in 2000, and the summary of these consultations will inform consideration of a possible legislative review over the next 12 months.

Case Study

Driveway Safety—Are Your Kids at Risk?

During the National Road Safety Forum, the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon. Catherine King MP released the Bureau's report on child pedestrian safety and launched a driveway safety brochure.

The report found that, on average, seven children aged under 15 are killed each year and 60 are seriously injured due to being hit by a vehicle moving around the home.

Child pedestrians aged 0–4 years are particularly at risk around the home; over 45 per cent of pedestrians in this age group who were killed and 33 per cent of pedestrians in this age group who were seriously injured, were hit by motor vehicles around the home.

Children 0–4 years are at greater risk of serious injury than older children 5–14, accounting for 70 per cent of the pedestrians 0–14 years seriously injured due to being hit by a four-wheeled motor vehicle around the home.

Beyond the home, the report found that an average of 20 pedestrians aged 0–14 were killed and 550 seriously injured each year. Relatively few are killed on public roads in speed zones of 40 kilometres per hour or less, with over half of deaths on public roads in zones of 50 or 60 kilometres per hour. Over 14 per cent of deaths beyond the home were in non-traffic locations.

However, this includes all types of motor vehicle accident because identifying low-speed vehicle run-overs is difficult, particularly for serious injury.

Vehicle speed at the time of a collision with a pedestrian is rarely known for fatal collisions. Vehicle speed, and vehicle movements and speed limits at collision sites, which can be used as an indicator of likely vehicle speed, are also absent from hospital records of collisions involving serious injury.

This report defined the problem of low-speed vehicle run-overs in a way that it could be observed quantitatively, then looked at its incidence around the home and beyond the home. Data was drawn from different sources: hospitals, coroners, police and road safety authorities. Consolidating this data presents challenges, as simplicity of presentation can hide complexity and introduce errors.

Identifying the incidence of low-speed vehicle run-overs is one task; identifying the factors that contributed to the risk of them happening is another. This report used a ‘descriptive case-series approach’ to look at risk factors for this type of accident. A range of possible risk factors were identified without assessing the relative weight of such factors in explaining the incidence of this type of accident.

The issue of low-speed vehicle run-overs raises questions about whether the visibility from within many four-wheeled vehicles of small and near objects outside, in any direction, is adequate and whether the movements of pedestrians and motor vehicles need to be more segregated in current built environments.

Driveway Safety

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Last Updated: 10 December, 2014