U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Office of International Programs

FHWA Home / Office of International Programs


In April 2004, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) undertook a scanning study of how agencies in Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand use performance measures in transportation planning and decisionmaking - Transportation Performance Measures in Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand (FHWA-PL-05-001).

The U.S panel was particularly impressed with how Australia's transportation and safety agencies used performance measures to implement driver behavioral strategies geared toward reducing crashes. According to the panel's observations, the Australian model demonstrated the most advanced process of understanding the problems, benchmarking against others, setting targets, identifying strategies, monitoring effects, and integrating results into future planning efforts.

Since 1980, Australia has gone from nearly 4.5 to 1.5 deaths per 10,000 registered motor vehicles. This compares to a change of 3.5 to 2.3 deaths per 10,000 registered motor vehicles in the United States over the same time period. In terms of traffic deaths as a function of population, Australia went from 22.5 deaths per 100,000 population in 1980 to fewer than 9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2003. From nearly identical rates in 1980, the Australian rate has fallen to a point where it is now a little more than half the U.S. rate.

This report, which was undertaken through Austroads by Professor Ian Johnston, director of Monash University Accident Research Centre, reviews Australia's accomplishments in highway safety. It not only discusses the performance measures established, but also goes beyond the public data. It draws from interviews with politicians, senior agency staff, and others with firsthand knowledge of how the traffic safety strategies were put together and, above all, how they were implemented, often amid public controversy but with majority community support.

The scan panel, sincerely impressed with these gains, would like to share them with the reader.

Scan Team Members:

Douglas MacDonald
Washington State DOT
Michael Meyer
Georgia Institute of Technology
(Report Facilitator)
Connie P. Yew

Ken Philmus
Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey

Robert Arnold
T. Jeffrey Price
Virginia DOT
John R. Baxter
Douglas R. Rose
Maryland State Highway Administration
Randall K. Halvorson
Minnesota DOT
C. Michael Walton
University of Texas at Austin
Anthony Kane
William R. White
Hal Kassoff
Parsons Brinckerhoff
  Contents Next >>
Page last modified on November 7, 2014
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000