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Australia’s road death farce

By Wheels Staff, 19 May 2017 Opinion

Australia’s road death farce

Why our fixation with speed needs to change

Australia’s road toll rose to 1300 deaths last year, prompting governments and administrators to blindly push forward with plans for even more draconian emphasis on speeds and fining drivers. Not better training or licencing.

In fact, the more-of-the same ‘single policy’ approach is bizarrely prompting governments to claim deaths on our roads can reduce to zero.

An investigation Wheels has found a collective blinkered approach to road safety, with speed seeming to be the only culprit in the minds of our policymakers.

“No-one suggests that a vehicle travelling at speed doesn’t pose a risk, but to slavishly claim that more draconian speed limits and bigger fines will rid Australia of road deaths is breathtaking,” notes editor Alex Inwood.

“Disturbingly, this is the blinkered mindset of the people who formulate, legislate and police the road safety laws in Australia. The answer to reduce the road toll seems to be ‘more fines, more legislation and even lower speed limits’, while lessons from overseas on improving driver training and driver education are being ignored.”


  • Last year the national road toll reached a four-year high of 1,300 with deaths in WA rising 20.6 percent and Victoria by 15.9 percent. Victoria has poured the most into a high-profile effort to reduce road trauma, with an emphasis on speeding and fines. Last year there were 1.5 million camera fines issued in Victoria, raising $356 million in revenue, with many of the state’s cameras ‘hidden’ from the view of motorists.
  • Despite the trends, politicians in our two most populous states (New South Wales and Victoria) are backing a campaign called ‘Towards Zero’, which claims a road toll of zero is not only desirable, it is definitely achievable. This, without fundamentally changing other road safety factors – including rural road quality or the way we train (and license) people to drive in Australia.
  • Apart from the ongoing emphasis on speeding and supposedly ‘curbing’ driver behaviour through fines, there is also talk of reducing some highway limits to 80km/h and even having wire rope barriers dividing roads (to prevent any form of overtaking).
  • The road safety authorities that Wheels spoke to were dismissive of the concept of improved driver training.

Read our full investigation at Wheelsmag.com.au