MELBOURNE, AAP – A parliamentary inquiry has called for the Victorian government to introduce a five-star roads rating system and push for greater accountability among state-run agencies.
The upper house committee, established in 2019 to examine an uptick in Victoria’s road toll amid the “Towards Zero” strategy, has found there is a perceived lack of transparency and accountability among Victoria’s road safety bodies.
“(It) may be harming Victoria’s aims of further reducing its road toll,” said the report, tabled in state parliament on Thursday.
“There is concern among some experts about whether Victoria’s road safety partners are working in a fully collaborative manner.”
The inquiry, headed by Labor MP Enver Erdogan, conceded there was a “great deal of inconsistency” among the bodies on reporting figures for people seriously injured on Victorian roads.
The now-split Department of Health and Human Services’ role in public health road safety was described as unclear beyond data collection.
Among its 36 recommendations, the inquiry wants the state government to review the skills of Department of Transport managers, improve data collection and allow a sole agency to have oversight of data integration.
“Victoria’s road safety partners must commit to a new culture of cooperation, transparency and an acceptance of the benefits of independent scrutiny of their work,” the report reads.
“A lack of transparency among Victoria’s road safety partners prevents thorough independent analysis of strategies and internal skillsets.
“Such analysis is needed to ensure constant progress and improvement in road safety.”
Despite Victoria’s road toll dropping sharply over the past five decades, the report acknowledges figures have plateaued.
It suggests authorities will need to think outside the box to cut deaths on Victorian roads below 200, including the implementation of a predicted star rating system for all road projects.
Mr Erdogan urged the government to commission and publish research to determine the cost and time frame for making all highways, arterial roads and other significant roads a minimum three-star rating.
“A star safety rating for roads exists, with one-star being the least safe and five-star being the safest,” he said.
“Research suggests fatalities and serious injuries are halved for each incremental improvement to a road’s condition.”
The inquiry has also recommended the government review speed limits on all rural and regional roads, identifying unsafe low-traffic roads where limits should be reduced and unsafe high-traffic roads where redevelopment is needed.
Shadow Rural Roads Minister Roma Britnell said lowering speed limits was a band-aid solution.
“It’s a lazy option and isn’t the way to fix the safety issues on our roads,” she said in a statement.
The Legislative Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee received 151 submissions and heard from about 70 witnesses including leading road safety experts.