Half of all road deaths occur on rural roads

Date published

15 Jan 2016

In statistics just released yesterday, the Australian road toll for 2015 was 1,209 people.

"Half of all road deaths occur in remote and rural areas, despite two thirds of Australians living in cities" Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia CEO Martin Laverty said.

"Zero deaths can only be achieved if resources are directed to safety improvements in remote and rural Australia, where a disproportionate number of road accidents occur.

Deaths on Australian roads are in decline over time.

A decade ago in 2005, there were 1,636 deaths on our roads. 26% fewer deaths occurred in 2015.

Yet a stubborn city and bush disparity exists.

Remote Australians are two and a half times more likely to be hospitalized following a motor accident than city residents.

"Public transport use, road safety advertising campaigns, and high visibility policing are effective in cities, but are less effective or not possible across all remote and rural areas", said Mr Laverty.

He cited the International Road Traffic and Accident Database as evidence that Australia can further cut road deaths.

"The United Kingdom has half the road deaths per head of population than Australia. Matching the UK would be a good milestone on the road to zero deaths," Mr Laverty said.

"Zero deaths on country roads requires locally targeted action for:

  • Safer roads, through continued upgrade of dangerous roads and highways;
  • Safer drivers, through seat belt, alcohol, drug, speeding, and fatigue management;
  • Safer vehicles, through uptake of new safety technology in motor vehicles.

"Support for first responders is also key. Police, ambulance, and community volunteers need sufficient resources for their essential first to scene service," Mr Laverty said.

"The Royal Flying Doctor Service also depends on community support. One in every five people the Flying Doctor provides medical care to in the air is suffering an injury.

"It is only with strong financial support from government and generous charitable donations from communities that the Flying Doctor is able to be on call twenty-four hours a day to respond," Mr Laverty concluded.