Page 1824 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 May 2013

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MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (11.22): The government welcomes and will be supporting this motion this morning.

It is fitting that this motion is being debated today, as it coincides with United Nations Global Road Safety Week, which is this year dedicated to the issue of pedestrian safety. This focus demonstrates that road safety for vulnerable road users is gaining global attention. I note that in the lead-up to Road Safety Week the World Health Organisation, together with partner organisations, launched their sixth good practice manual, which is focused on pedestrian safety and is a manual for decision makers and practitioners.

Road trauma is often described as a global epidemic, with the death of approximately 1.3 million people every year and up to 50 million injuries on the world’s roads. The most concerning aspect of these statistics is that half of the deaths are vulnerable road users. Each year, more than 270,000 pedestrians lose their lives on the world’s roads, which constitutes around 22 per cent of all road traffic fatalities. In some countries this proportion is as high as two-thirds of all road traffic deaths. While many of these deaths and injuries occur in developing countries, in 2009 Australia was ranked behind 15 other OECD countries which all had a lower number of road deaths per 100,000 population than we did.

In the ACT, the five-yearly average for the number of road fatalities to the end of 2012 was 13, with approximately 700 injuries per year. The ACT has continued to maintain a lower number of road fatalities per capita than the national average, with 1.4 fatalities per 100,000 head of population to June 2012, compared to 5.7 road fatalities per 100,000 head of population nationally. The ACT’s road safety record is therefore relatively good; however, I am sure that all members would agree that even one death on our roads is one too many.

No doubt members may have noted recent media reports which raised concerns from the Australian Automobile Association about a spike in road deaths since the extraordinary 12-month period from April 2011 to March 2012 when there were no fatalities recorded on our roads. Significant variations in the raw number of ACT road crash fatalities year on year are not unusual, and while it is unfortunate that this result came to an end, I think all members would reluctantly concede that it was unlikely to be sustained in perpetuity.

In terms of the proportion of ACT road fatalities that involve vulnerable road users, ACT road crash information produced by the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate shows that 25 of the 65 fatalities—38 per cent—which occurred in the five-year period 2007 to 2011 were vulnerable road users. Vulnerable road users are also highly implicated in injury crashes and represent over a third of total casualties in the ACT. This disproportionate representation of vulnerable road users in fatal and injury crashes is very concerning, but it is also not surprising as these road users do not benefit from the level of crash protection which is provided by those who use passenger motor vehicles.

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