Council meets to tackle road safety

By: Graham Gardiner

The new National Roads Safety Council (NRSC) has met for the first time, as new figures show a Government initiative

The new National Roads Safety Council (NRSC) has met for the first time, as new figures show a Government initiative to reduce road deaths by 40 percent has failed.

Figures released today by Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese show the National Road Safety Strategy compiled in 2001 only managed to achieve a 21 percent reduction.

The NRSC will be chaired Roger Cook and includes seven road safety experts and community leaders.

Trucking icon Lindsay Fox has also been appointed as a road safety ambassador.

Speaking at the launch of the NRSC, Albanese says the council underlines the Government’s drive to reduce the road toll.

"Over the next 12 months, their key task will be to assist the nation’s transport ministers develop the next 10 year NRSS which will take effect from 2011," he says of the council members.

Albanese says the Government is also taking action to reduce the road toll by investing more money to improve road safety, constructing more rest stops and providing free driving lessons to learner drivers.

But he says road safety ultimately rests with drivers, urging people to take greater responsibility for their own conduct and avoid risky behaviour while behind the wheel.

The council includes Professor MaryAnn Bin-Sallik, Freda Crucitti of the Australian Autombile Association and Ann Bunnell, who is the chair of the Australian Foundation of the Alliance for Healthy Cities.

Former motorcycle racing champ Wayne Gardner is also a member, alongside representatives from the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) and the National Transport Commission.

Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chairman Trevor Martyn last week urged the council to look at separating long distance and local traffic and cutting speed limits in urban areas where cars interact with turning trucks.

He says trucking operators need to put safety systems in place such as making sure drivers are fit for duty and work to realistic schedules.

But the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) slammed the membership of council because there were no transport representatives.

"There’s a risk that not having a transport industry representative on this expert panel means we’ll end up with the same worn-out proposals to address the road toll," the RTBU’s Bob Nanva says.

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