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The advantages of the National Road Safety Council as an independent national body promoting road safety in Australia.
In Australia, the accountability for, and management of, road safety rests almost entirely with the states and territories. In order to promote road safety more effectively and nationally, the jurisdictions work together in several ways, including the National Road Safety Executive Group, and the creation of National Road Safety Strategies each covering periods of a decade. Critical national advocacy groups already exist, including the Australasian College of Road Safety, ANCAP, and the Australian Automobile Association (AAA). In addition, the states, territories, and Commonwealth Governments agreed to create the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), an independent body working at the national level for road safety, but with funding from all the jurisdictions. This paper identifies advantages of this body in advancing road safety, and considers the best ways for the NRSC to move forward.
Key advantages of the NRSC include: (1) independence of commentary from Government and credibility as an unbiased advocacy group (unlike the Government experts in each jurisdiction who are often presented in the media as simply defending the Governments position rather than bringing evidence based expertise); (2) independence from the pressure of the views of members (which may sometimes limit the evidence basis of road safety positions of motoring clubs); and (3) the funding base, which while small in comparison with the jurisdictions, is still large compared with other independent voices such as the ACRS. The NRSC has three strategic advantages that it aims to capture: (1) by purchasing materials or processes for national use it captures efficiencies over each state conducting its own purchase process; (2) as an independent voice the NRSC can advocate courageous actions, helping the political process, applying pressure for national uniformity, and encouraging stronger decision making through the knowledge that the other states are doing it and the feeling that ‘I am not alone in this’; (3) the NRSC has sufficient funds to trial some promising programs and conduct key pieces of research. Examples of these are identified from the activities of the NRSC to date, including the funding of materials, advocacy to the media, and the trialling of programs.