Victoria’s traffic fatalities dropped by 17.8% last year, to 213. This means their traffic authority, VicRoads, is on track for meeting its interim Vision Zero target of fewer than 200 lives lost in 2020. Each one of the lives lost is an unacceptable tragedy, but the drop from 2017 (259 lives) is part of a steady reduction in lives lost, and hopefully this will continue:
(The December total was interim when the chart was made, and therefore is in red but, sadly, two more lives were lost that month.)
Victoria’s drop in road deaths by 17.8% was much better than the Australian average of a 6.4% drop.
During the 12 months ended December 2018, there were 1,146 road deaths. This is a decrease of 6.4 per cent from the 12-month period ending December 2017.
Both of these results are in stark contrast to the trend in NZ, which is heading in the opposite direction:
The above chart is from the Road Safety Business Improvement Review, which also says:
While Auckland remains below the national DSI per head for New Zealand (831 DSI cf pro rata 1021), this is certainly to be expected given the lower speed environment on average on roads in urban areas (most of Auckland) compared to some urban but mainly rural higher speed roads across New Zealand.
So what’s Victoria’s Secret?
There’s a lot to feel positive about when reading of shires which have seen no deaths, and the locals’ appreciation of the Vision Zero approach:
For the first time since the Transport Accident Commission started keeping track of the state’s road toll in 1987, no road deaths were recorded in the Moorabool and Macedon Ranges shires near Ballarat.
That’s a significant improvement from last year, when there were six road deaths in Moorabool and four road deaths in the Macedon Ranges. On average four road deaths a year are recorded in each municipality.
Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said the zero figure for the area was a great result that showed “having a zero road toll is an achievable goal”.
Are there lessons for NZ in what Victoria is doing? Are there lessons for urban Auckland? I thought perhaps not, when I read that the drop in Victoria last year occurred on rural roads:
Victoria is set to record its lowest ever road toll, driven by a large drop in rural and regional road deaths this year.
… but I also realised there was variation from year-to-year:
I decided – for what it’s worth – there might be some value in looking at the breakdown of fatalities for different road user categories and different location types. I compared last year’s results with the 5 year average for different road users.
The best reduction in loss of life were in these categories:
- car passengers down 26% from 46 to 34
- rural Victoria down 24% from 144 to 109
- car drivers down 24% from 127 to 97
- cyclists down 22% from 9 to 7
- urban Melbourne down 18% from 92 to 74
Whereas these road user categories aren’t seeing any gains:
- pedestrians no change at 37
- provincial towns, small towns and hamlets up 4% from 24 to 25
- motorcyclists down 3% from 39 to 38
Rather than the biggest difference being between rural and urban areas, it seems there are improvements being made in both. But there are some road users not benefiting from the changes: pedestrians, motorcyclists, and people in small towns.
I wonder if any knowledgeable readers can offer insights into the safety plans for Victoria? What are they doing to achieve the improved safety results? Are there changes planned that will improve things for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and for small towns, too? Some snippets I found as I trawled the VicRoads website were:
Side road-activated speeds, which made good sense to me, except that I didn’t see anything about a beg button to provide the lowered speeds for cyclists, and for people wanting to cross on foot.
A rule for cyclists that doesn’t add much for someone in the “interested but concerned” category:
If you are riding a bicycle or an animal (e.g. a horse), you have the option of turning right from the left lane. In this case, you must give way to any other drivers exiting the roundabout before you make your turn and exit.
And some rules that highlight safety gaps rather than help with pedestrian or small town safety:
Vehicles do not need to give way to pedestrians at roundabouts unless there is a pedestrian crossing there.
It’s clear that Victoria, like Auckland, will need to overhaul some existing conventions, and pull on all the different strands of the Vision Zero approach.
One reason for taking a look at Victoria is that this is where Auckland Transport’s new Executive General Manager Safety, Bryan Sherritt, hails from. He was employed by VicRoads for over 27 years. With a bit of luck he will bring an effective toolkit with him, and will have power within Auckland Transport to use it. I wonder what he thinks will translate from Victoria to Auckland, what he thinks needs to be done differently here because of our differences, and what he’s itching to do here that he was unable to do in Victoria.
Welcome, Bryan, and I look forward to hearing your plans for Auckland.