National Road Safety Strategy 2021 – 2030

Ensuring people who ride bikes are prioritised in Australia’s road safety strategy and action plan. 

What is the National Road Safety Strategy? 

Developed by the Office for Road Safety in consultation with relevant stakeholders, the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) 2021-2030 will set out Australia’s approach to improving road safety outcomes, with the long-term vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads by 2050.

The draft Strategy was open for public consultation from 23 February – 23 March 2021. Feedback received through the consultation period will inform the final Strategy and development of the five-year National Road Safety Action Plan.

The final Strategy and Action Plan will be provided to governments for endorsement and is expected to be released in 2021.

Read the Draft Strategy

The Problem

Road trauma causes enormous and unacceptable human and economic costs. Road safety remains an urgent national problem.

Australia’s road safety performance has stalled.

Road safety remains an urgent national problem and requires all three levels of government to be an active part of the solution.

Given the huge human and economic costs of road trauma, current actions and investments are not enough.

The new National Road Safety Strategy faces the same risk of failure of previous strategies without a focus on implementation and accountability frameworks for all stakeholders involved including governments, vehicle suppliers (speed and safety technologies) and telecommunications companies (distracted driving).

Bicycle Network is active in ensuring that bike riders and vulnerable road users are appropriately prioritised as part of the strategy. 

The stats: 

  • Currently, around 1,200 people are killed each year on our roads, and almost 40,000 are seriously injured.
  • In 2020 just under 90 per cent of bike rider fatalities involved another vehicle, a statistic that is consistent with the average for the last 20 years (82 per cent).
  • Over the last 20 years approximately 1 in 4 bicycle fatalities involved a heavy vehicle (bus, overweight or articulated trucks).
  • Over the last 20 years 60 per cent of the bike rider fatalities in regional areas
    occurred on roads with posted speed limits between 80-100km/h.
  • Road crashes cost the Australian economy more than $30 billion a year.

Feedback on the Draft 

As part of the consultation process, Bicycle Network has provided feedback and input on the NRSS draft to ensure that the safety of Australia’s most vulnerable road users, people who ride and walk, are prioritised across the Strategy. 

Many of our recommendations are consistent with the recommendations and findings from the 2018 Inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. Click here for a summary of the findings and recommendations

Bicycle Network offered this feedback in the spirit of cooperation and in alignment with the Australian Government’s long-term goal to eliminate road fatalities.

Below are the two submissions that we made to the Office of Road Safety during the consultation period. We were also part of a joint submission with other bike advocacy groups. 

Our recommendations: 

Major points of consideration

1. Acknowledge the interconnectedness between priorities

Bicycle Network therefore recommends that the Strategy offers more thorough acknowledgement of relationships amongst the NRSS priorities, and how these will be accommodated across the Strategy timeline. 

2 Expand the strategic actions for vulnerable road users

The ‘Vulnerable Road Users’ priority aims to “provide safe access for all road users”. Therefore, Bicycle Network recommends that the action points listed under this priority be carefully re-examined with an increased focus on:

  • increased protection of pedestrians and bike riders
  • behavioural issues in other road users that directly affect VRUs (e.g. compliance with minimum passing distance laws); and
  • changes to the physical environment.
3. Ensure appropriate consideration of separated infrastructure for vulnerable road users

Bicycle Network recommends that separated infrastructure be prioritised for the Strategy, within the context of either the ‘Infrastructure Planning and Investment’ or ‘Vulnerable Road Users’ priorities. Federal and state investments into active travel are increasing. To ensure a future-focused safe system, the NRSS should recognise the role of separated infrastructure in protecting a growing active travel population.

4 Consideration for behaviour change campaigns to support heavy vehicle safety

Bicycle Network recommends that educational interventions be considered as an additional action under the ‘Heavy Vehicle Safety’ priority. This will ensure that there will be an increased community understanding regarding the limitations that all road users face when it comes to visibility, behaviour, perspective and vulnerability around heavy vehicles.

Minor points of consideration

1. Recognise that fatalities for different road users are disproportionate

Bicycle Network strongly urges the ORS to consider setting individual targets for different road user types and to monitor future data accordingly. This will ensure that the delivery of positive safety outcomes for different road users occurs in equal measure.

2 Accessibility of the National Data Hub

In numerous sections, the Strategy refers to a National Data Hub, where progress on implementation and performance indicators will be periodically published. It is unclear whether this data hub will be an open data resource available to the public for individual inquiries. We recommend that this is made clearer for readers, so that the transparency and accountability principles defined in the document can be properly understood and acknowledged.

3. Clarity of the social model

The ‘social model’ schematic diagram (page 13) outlines the themes and priorities that comprise the NRSS. The diagram is particularly effective for laying out these components. However, it is not particularly clear what the green and blue connectors are conveying.

We recommend the inclusion of a legend or additional text that explains to the reader how these connections are to be interpreted. We also reiterate here that the diagram could potentially be enhanced to show the interconnectedness between different priorities, and to better illustrate the complex nature of road safety.

4. Validity of the Wramborg model

While the data shown in ‘Wramborg’s model’ are nonetheless compelling, there is little information regarding the level of critical appraisal the work has undergone, which may cast some doubt on its scientific rigor. It is therefore recommended that a study that has undergone appropriate peer-review is considered to inform the Strategy.

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