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Call to release the ‘secrets’ that may help reduce our road carnage

A surge in deaths on Australian roads has prompted renewed calls for “secret” state road trauma data to be made public, a day after three people died in a horror smash in Queensland.

Jun 18, 2024, updated Jun 18, 2024
The AAA said the road data was being hidden by states and territory officials and wanted it released as part of a looming funding deal between Commonwealth and state transport ministers. (AAP Image/Scott Webster)

The AAA said the road data was being hidden by states and territory officials and wanted it released as part of a looming funding deal between Commonwealth and state transport ministers. (AAP Image/Scott Webster)

The Australian Automobile Association said the number of road deaths rose 10.4 per cent nationally to 1303 in the year to May, which the group said pointed to an “urgent need” for the data to inform policymaking.

The key automotive body said the data was being hidden by states and territory officials and wanted it released as part of a looming funding deal between Commonwealth and state transport ministers.

The call comes after a major crash west of Brisbane on Monday claimed the life of a father and his two children, while a woman with the trio was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

AAA managing director Michael Bradley said the best way to understand what was going wrong on the nation’s roads was to get access to the restricted data.

“(It’s) about the causes of crashes, the state of our roads and the effectiveness of police traffic enforcement. State and territory governments hold this data but keep it secret,” he said.

“At a time when current policies are failing and more than 100 people are dying on the roads each month, the secrecy must end.”

According to the AAA, road deaths in the 12-month period surged most in the Northern Territory, where they lifted 72.4 per cent to 50 fatalities.

In NSW, fatalities jumped 32.9 per cent to 372, while in Victoria and Queensland they increased 5.1 per cent, to 288 and 287 deaths, respectively.

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Bradley said the data release would deliver on a pre-election pledge made by federal Labor to extract better-quality information from states and territories in return for commonwealth road funding.

“The window of opportunity is about to close on what would be the most important road safety reform in decades,” Bradley said.

“States and territories must accept that now is the time to let data save lives.

“Actions matter, and in the next fortnight, states and territories must recognise Australia is facing a road safety crisis and the data they hold is needed if Australia is to develop an evidence-based solution”.

Federal Transport Minister Catherine King has been contacted for comment.

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