Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (17:35): I am interested to follow up on the continuation of our discussion in relation to a joint committee on road trauma and road safety and related matters. In doing so I investigated budget paper three of the last year’s budget, still in operation, on delivering the road safety action plan. This plan and the funding within look to the Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021–2030 from the Transport Accident Commission, and this is the strategy around it:
The purpose of this Strategy is to create a safer road environment and reduce the opportunity for poor decision making.
The Strategy aims to halve road deaths by 2030 and put us on a strong path to eliminate all road deaths by 2050. It also seeks to reduce the incidence of serious injury resulting from road crashes.
Well, this is a noble and desired and needed focus and aim, but unfortunately we see in the current statistics that we are actually going backwards on that aim. We see that in 2023 we have had 68 lives lost so far this year – that is a 36 per cent increase on the last year. We also see that there is a significant statistical increase on our rural roads. We have got a 42 per cent increase in deaths on our country roads. Not only are we having more people dying on roads but more of them are dying on our country roads. It is for that reason that we do need a thorough investigation into these tragedies, into these crashes.
I took the opportunity to speak to the chair of RoadSafe in Gippsland, a very knowledgeable and dedicated human being, Andy Milbourne, and he is quite happy to have his name mentioned. I am really wanting to put some of his considerations on the record today in relation to safety on our roads. In doing that I look to go back to the government’s agenda about a road safety action plan – is it working? Well, here are some of his suggestions.
He goes to motorcycle gear – and I know Acting President Terpstra is a very careful and law-abiding motorbike rider – and he talks about learners having to wear a reflective vest but how when they get their licence, they do not have to wear protective gear. He would argue you have to wear a helmet and you actually need those specified leathers and protective gear. An accident can be absolutely devastating. It may not kill you but it may wound you for life and have devastating consequences, so he is wanting to look at some of the requirements for protective gear for motorcyclists.
Unregistered vehicles – he raises the issue that those people who have broken the law, who have lost their licence or who are using unregistered vehicles are actually also covered by the TAC. In a caring society we said, ‘Well, everyone should still be covered for injury,’ but if you are going to take life and the law into your own hands and recklessly do those things, he is saying we should be looking at: do we fund those people for rehabilitation or should we be putting more funding into other areas for those law-abiding citizens? It is a good discussion to have, and I thank him for raising it.
His other comment is, and we see it in the stats, that unfortunately there has been a 600 per cent increase in over-70s deaths so far this year. That is a large statistic, but it ends up being that we have had six more deaths this year so far in that over-70s category. But also, what can be done for them? There may be people who are driving who no longer really wish to drive, particularly in rural areas, Eastern Victoria Region being one of them, where they do not have that public transport option so to get their groceries or go to the doctor they are having to use their own car. But they are now in a state where maybe they are not capable and they would really enjoy other choices. That is where we look at, for example, potentially a subsidised taxi program.
He also goes on to speak about caravans and trailers and how many of the accidents that they see, the crashes that they see, actually involve trailers and caravans. The other point that he raises is very important – it is about road safety education. The L2P young driver mentor program is absolutely outstanding, and I know there are some great results. We really need to see that expanded and volunteers coming on board.