Heavy vehicle deaths decrease

DEATHS from crashes involving heavy vehicles have decreased by nearly a third in the last decade.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has today released the Road trauma involving heavy vehicles: crash statistics report which shows annual fatalities from crashes involving trucks and buses reduced over the last decade from 281 to 189.

The report also reveals that for heavy vehicle crashes, drivers and vehicle passengers accounted for 75% of fatalities; the remainder was pedestrians (14%), motorcyclists (8%) and pedal cyclists (3%).

Assistant Minister for infrastructure and regional development Jamie Briggs said more than two thirds of crashes involving a heavy vehicle happened outside capital cities, with "too many" articulated truck crashes occurring on national and state highways.

"Although these statistics are trending downwards, the Australian Government is committed to working together with state and territory governments to ensure our transport networks are even safer and more productive across urban and regional Australia," Mr Briggs said.

"That is why we have committed a record $50 billion in the Budget to build the infrastructure for the 21st century for a stronger and more prosperous Australia.

"This includes a record $500 million investment in the national Black Spot Programme and a further $2.1 billion towards Roads to Recovery over the next five years to deliver vital funding to every council across Australia to fix local roads."

The Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Programme will also contribute to improving safety outcomes for heavy vehicle operations across Australia, targeting upgrades to road infrastructure and rest-areas and technology, among other projects.

Round Four of the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity, which opened earlier this month, will deliver $40 million each financial year through to 2019 and cover up to 50% of the cost of safety and productivity projects for heavy vehicles.

The Australian Government's Seatbelts on Regional School Buses programme is also continuing to increase passenger safety by subsidising the cost of fitting seatbelts to school buses on high risk regional school bus routes.

Successful projects under the latest round will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Australian Government will continue to monitor trends in heavy vehicle road safety and implement programmes to improve road safety and reduce fatal crashes on our roads.