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Why is Australia Doing so Well?

Australia, like the United States, is a federation. Responsibility for major road construction, maintenance and operation; traffic management; vehicle registration; driver licensing; and traffic safety legislation and enforcement all lie with the individual State Governments. The Federal Government is responsible for vehicle safety design standards, national data sets, national research projects, funding of national safety initiatives, and coordination of State efforts. While a national road safety strategy exists, it serves as a model and most States drive their traffic safety efforts through a State strategy and action plan. To identify the key factors for success and, particularly, to explore how political and community coalitions influenced implementation, it is necessary to drill down within one State. The International Technology Scanning Program report Transportation Performance Measures in Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand (FHWA-PL-05-001) identified the Victorian model as being of special interest, so it has been selected for discussion in this report. Table 2 shows that Australia’s two largest States in terms of population have outstanding traffic safety improvement records over the past 15 years, both above the impressive national average. It is important to note that most Australian States have a success story to tell, each with unique elements.

Table 2. Road traffic deaths in the 15 years since 1989.
  Australia New South Wales Victoria
Annual Average 1988 and 1989 2,844 999 739
Annual Average 2003 and 2004 1,610 531 337
% change -43% -47% -54%

Source: Data extracted from Web site of Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

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Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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