Australia’s doctors back road safety data transparency campaign

Australia’s key peak medical organisation has endorsed a push to link road safety data transparency with federal road funding to help reduce the nation’s surging road toll, which is climbing by more than 5 per cent a year.

Just a day ahead of a critical meeting of the nation’s transport ministers in Hobart, the Australian Medical Association today called on the Federal Government to compel state and territory governments to share road safety data to develop an effective national road safety database to be used to improve road safety policy.

At tomorrow’s Hobart meeting, Federal Transport Minister Catherine King will meet state and territory counterparts to discuss the next five-year National Partnership Agreement on Land Transport Infrastructure Projects, which will dictate how $50 billion in federal road funding is allocated over the next five years.

The AMA is backing the AAA’s call for Minister King to make these NPA grants – worth about $10 billion a year – conditional on the states and territories sharing road safety data about the causes of road crashes, the state of our roads and enforcement.

Australian Automobile Association Managing Director Michael Bradley said the AMA’s powerful statement sent the ministers an unambiguous message to end secrecy and utilise data to produce more effective road safety policies.

“Despite billions spent each year on our roads, deaths are increasing and the data can tell us what is going wrong,” Mr Bradley said.

“Doctors and first responders serve on the front lines of the nation’s road safety crisis. They deal with the tragic human outcomes of road trauma. Politicians should listen to doctors and put safety ahead of secrecy.

“Using data to save lives is not a political issue. It is simple common sense.”

Early in October the AAA commenced its Data Saves Lives campaign pressing for data transparency to improve road safety policies and show Australians whether our politicians invest in roads to make us safer or to win votes in marginal electorates.

Mr Bradley said thousands of Australians had engaged with the campaign, which also had the support of all the nation’s motoring clubs as well as 17 national organisations representing motorists, motorcyclists, truckers, pedestrians, surgeons, insurers, road engineers and safety advocates.

The AAA proposals have been endorsed by all Liberal, National, Greens and Teals MPs in the House of Representatives. But with only one exception, Labor MPs have declined to support the campaign.

Mr Bradley said the campaign had created a groundswell of support from Australians who understood that a continuation of business as usual on road safety would lead to more deaths on our roads.

“Entrenching genuine data transparency would be the most significant road safety reform in decades,” Mr Bradley said.

“The meeting of ministers is an opportunity for Minister King and her colleagues to make a real difference in improving road safety policies and enhancing public oversight of how public money is spent.”

/Public Release. View in full here.