Local Government Road Safety Survey - 2000

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #189 - 2002

Full report in .pdf format [671KB]

Authors:  N. Haworth and M. Symmons

Abstract:

Data from the 2000 Local Government Road Safety Survey was compared with that obtained in the 1998 Local Government Road Safety Survey as an examination of changes in road safety at the local government level since the Saferoads Initiative was implemented in 1998. The two questionnaires achieved an equivalent high response rate.

There is some evidence of an increase in road safety activity at the local government level in 2000. A larger number of Council business units were indicated to share responsibility for road safety and twice as many Councils had set road safety targets in 2000. Road safety was also more likely to be mentioned in Council documents such as Corporate Plans. More Councils spent money on various road safety projects in 2000 and a greater number of Councils were planning future road safety activities. Even though it was a focus of the Saferoads Initiative, the number of Councils with a Road Safety Plan or Strategy did not increase from 1998 to 2000. However many more Councils were developing one in 2000 than in 1998.

"Lack of resources" was the most likely reason as to why Councils did not have a Road Safety Strategy or Plan and "speeding in local streets" was the activity most likely to receive Council funding. Councils were most likely to collaborate with VicRoads and the Police to improve road safety. Few Councils conducted regular safety audits on the existing road system and few council staff received any formal training in relation to road safety. Safety audit training was the most common type of training that staff received and the most frequently chosen type of training that Councils indicated would assist them in conducting road safety programs. Few Councils had a policy regarding the serving of alcohol at Council functions, or had driver training or a Safe Driving Policy.

Suggestions are made for follow-up surveys to further evaluate the Saferoads Initiative and the changes in road safety activity at local government level.

Executive Summary

The 2000 Local Government Road Safety Survey sought to:

  • highlight current road safety initiatives in 2000;
  • compare the data obtained in the 2000 survey against the baseline measure set by a 1998 survey to assess the effects of the Saferoads Initiative; and
  • identify opportunities to promote road safety initiatives.

Similarities in responses between 1998 and 2000

In the following areas, the responses to the 2000 survey did not differ markedly from those of the 1998 survey:

  • The questionnaire response rate was equivalent between the two surveys.
  • Engineering- and infrastructure-type business units or departments were most likely to be identified as the primary source of responsibility for road safety.
  • "Lack of resources" was the most likely reason as to why Councils did not have a Road Safety Strategy or Plan.
  • "Speeding in local streets" was the activity most likely to receive Council funding and the highest single expenditure item. "Road safety promotion", "child restraint use" and "bicycle safety promotion" were also common expenditure items.
  • "Level of community concern" was the most likely factor that led to the development of individual road safety programs, followed by involvement of other groups such as VicRoads, crash data, and pressure from user groups. Community feedback and accident records were the most common method used by Councils to identify road safety issues.
  • Councils collaborated with VicRoads and the Police to improve road safety.
  • Only one-quarter of Councils conducted regular safety audits on the existing road system.
  • Few council staff received road safety training. Safety auditing was the most common training received and the most common type of training that Councils indicated would assist them in conducting road safety programs.
  • Almost all Councils regularly pruned trees to increase visibility, but few had a policy for planting frangible trees to minimise the collision hazard for motorists.
  • Most Councils considered the effects on motorcyclists of proposed traffic management devices and specified that contractors sweep up loose material after works.
  • A majority of Councils worked towards pedestrian safety; e.g. considering pedestrian needs when planning traffic control devices. The only activity where the number of Councils with no involvement exceeded the number with some involvement was minimising the number of intoxicated pedestrians.
  • A majority of Councils had a Bicycle Plan or Strategy.

Areas of increased road safety activity in 2000

The results of the 2000 survey provided some evidence of an increase in road safety activity at the local government level:

  • The number and variety of departments with some responsibility for road safety increased.
  • Twice as many Councils had set road safety targets.
  • Few Councils possessed a Road Safety Plan or Strategy, however many more Councils were developing a Plan.
  • A larger number of Councils spent money on various road safety projects.
  • Road safety was more likely to be mentioned in Council documents such as Corporate Plans.
  • Only a few more Councils evaluated road safety activities in 2000, but there were twice as many actual instances of evaluation in 2000. Community feedback, traffic surveys and crash data were all frequently used as evaluation tools.
  • A greater number of Councils were planning future road safety activities.

Other differences between the 1998 and 2000 survey results

The survey results also revealed instances where there were differences between 1998 and 2000 responses:

  • In 1998 "safety of infrastructure" was the most common way that road safety was mentioned in Corporate Plans, followed by the development or use of a Road Safety Strategy. In 2000 the most common choices were the same but the order was reversed.
  • Planned activities were most likely to be "improvement of infrastructure" in 1998 and development of a Road Safety Strategy or Plan in 2000.

Other data

The 2000 survey included additional questions related to Council's passenger vehicle fleet. Few Councils had a policy regarding the serving of alcohol at Council functions, or had driver training or a Safe Driving Policy. However, a majority of Councils require common safety features for their fleet cars, such as a driver's side airbag, ensure that Council vehicles are regularly checked and maintained, and monitor the driving records of employees.

Other issues

One of the primary aims of the Saferoads Initiative was to increase the level of road safety activity at local government level. Council responses to the two surveys suggest that overall there seems to be increased activity in road safety across all Councils, regardless of budget and location. However, this increase in activity was not reflected in a higher survey response rate in 2000.

As the Saferoads Initiative evolves to meet the needs of Councils and local government assumes further responsibility for road safety within its municipality, it is suggested that the survey be repeated in 2002 or 2003.

Sponsoring Organisation: Baseline Research Program - Department of Justice, Transport Accident Commission, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd, VicRoads