Last year there were 1,291 fatalities on our roads; 579 of those killed were driving a vehicle at the time of deathi. National road safety campaigns such as "stop, revive, survive" and "don't drink and drive" have been successful at informing drivers of decisions that can put themselves and other road users at risk. But this is only one aspect of a broader picture.
Australia's National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 has recognised four key areas for road safety initiatives: safe roads, safe speeds, safe vehicles, and safe peopleii. Investing in and developing road infrastructure [link to road infrastructure] is an important part of reducing driving-related fatalities and casualties.
How safe a road is depends on a number of factors - width of the road, the presence of a median strip and safety barriers, adequate signage and markings, space for overtaking, and whether the road curves or crestsiii. Undivided roads with only one lane, intersections, roadside obstacles (such as poles, trees or slopes), and roads with unsealed or narrow shoulder are also considered to be riskyiii.
Certain stretches of highways and roads are notorious for their crash rate. Between 2005 and 2009, the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) analysed more than 20,000km or three percent of Australian highways. This three percent was selected for study because these roads account for more than 15 per cent of all fatalities across the countryiv. Assessed roads were major arterial roads in all states and territoriesv.
The study measured road performance by looking at the number of crashes where at least one person was killed or injured (a casualty crash) on selected roads over the five year period. The safety level of the respective roads was then differentiated on a risk rating system, with the safest roads marked as low risk and dangerous roads marked as either medium-high or high riskvi.
According to the 2011 AusRAP report on the study, How Safe Are Our Roads, the top ten "persistently higher risk" sections of highways were found in all States/Territories except Victoria and the ACTvii. Highway sections classified as "persistently higher risk" are those which rated high or medium-high in both data sets (2005-2009 analysis and 2000-2004 analysis). Thirteen out of fifteen of the sections experienced an increased number of casualty crashes since the 2000-2004 study. For the top fifteen sections, casualty crashes increased by an average of forty per cent.
The section running from Darwin to Pine Creek on the Stuart Highway ranked first as the most persistently higher risk section of a highway in the Northern Territory. Four of the top five most persistently higher risk sections were in Queensland, and three of these where along the Bruce Highway. Two stretches of South Australian highway made it into the most dangerous fifteen, as did two sections in Tasmania. New South Wales and Western Australia each had a notable danger areavii.
|1||NT||Stuart Hwy||Darwin to Pine Creek||140||262|
|2||QLD||Bruce Hwy||Sarina to Mackay||54||108|
|3||QLD||Bruce Hwy||Childers to Miriam Vale||158||202|
|4||QLD||Warrego / Landsborough / Barkly Hwy||Mt Isa to NT border||30||43|
|5||QLD||Bruce Hwy||Innisfail to Cairns||98||142|
|6||NT||Stuart Hwy||Alice Springs to SA border||41||50|
|7||SA||Dukes Hwy||Bordertown to VIC border||12||13|
|8||QLD||Bruce Hwy||Proserpine to Ayr||133||163|
|9||TAS||East Tamar Hwy||Dalrymple Rd to Bell Bay Rd||17||32|
|10||QLD||Warrego / Landsborough / Barkly Hwy||Winton to Flinders Hwy||27||23|
|11||TAS||East Tamar Hwy||Alanvale Connector to Dalrymple Rd||18||35|
|12||NSW||Great Western / Mitchell Hwy||Lapstone to Katoomba||405||397|
|13||WA||Great Northern / Victoria Hwy||Halls Creek to NT Border||36||57|
|14||QLD||Bruce Hwy||Miriam Vale to Rockhampton||164||206|
|15||SA||Stuart Hwy||NT border to Coober Pedy||41||45|
Red = ranked Medium High, Black=ranked High
Road safety is not only a responsibility of the government, but of all road users. While infrastructure planning and development may improve safety on our roads, unpredictable events, such as accidents and crashes are not always avoidable. Taking out car insurance is an important measure you can take to ensure that your car is safeguarded in such events. Visit the Allianz website for a quote in just 2 minutes.
i Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, Road Deaths Australia 2011 Statistical Summary, Australian Government, http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2012/files/RDA_Summary_2011.pdf, p.2
i Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020, http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/safety/national_road_safety_strategy/index.aspx
iii Australian Road Assessment Program, 2011, How Safe Are Our Roads?, http://www.ausrap.org/ausrap/performance-tracking-report/pdfs/AusRAP-report-2011-How-Safe-Are-Our-Roads.pdf, p.4
iv Australian Road Assessment Program, 2011, How Safe Are Our Roads?, http://www.ausrap.org/ausrap/performance-tracking-report/pdfs/AusRAP-report-2011-How-Safe-Are-Our-Roads.pdf, p.5
v Australian Road Assessment Program, 2011, How Safe Are Our Roads?, http://www.ausrap.org/ausrap/performance-tracking-report/pdfs/AusRAP-report-2011-How-Safe-Are-Our-Roads.pdf, p.42-52
vi Australian Road Assessment Program, 2011, How Safe Are Our Roads?, http://www.ausrap.org/ausrap/performance-tracking-report/pdfs/AusRAP-report-2011-How-Safe-Are-Our-Roads.pdf, p.6
vii Australian Road Assessment Program, 2011, How Safe Are Our Roads?, p.9, Table 3: Top 15 Persistently Higher Risk Sections of Highway, http://www.ausrap.org/ausrap/performance-tracking-report/pdfs/AusRAP-report-2011-How-Safe-Are-Our-Roads.pdf