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Road safety in five leading countries.

Shoukrallah, R

General

2008

Each year, some 600,000 road crashes are reported in Australia killing about 1,750 people and injuring in excess of 200,000. These road crashes cost the community more than $15 billion every year2. Worldwide, approximately 1.2 million people are killed and 50 million people are injured in road crashes each year. The global cost of road traffic injuries is estimated at US$518 billion each year. International road death rates allow Australia’s road safety performance to be compared with other OECD nations while taking into account the differing levels of population (a measure of the public health risk associated with road trauma), motorisation and distances travelled (measures of the risk associated with road travel).

Among OECD nations, Australia has the 11th lowest rate in road deaths per 100,000 population; the 9th lowest rate in road deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles and the 7th lowest rate in road deaths per 100 million vehicle kilometres travelled. While these rates, and rankings, change every year, some countries have consistently displayed better road safety records than Australia. The NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust Churchill Fellowship allowed me to travel to Sweden, UK, Norway, Japan and Denmark to examine the policies and measures in these countries in an attempt to understand the reasons behind their good performance.