Statement on Committee Report – Vulnerable Road Users

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It is a pleasure to rise and speak for the first time on a committee report on the inquiry into the impact of road safety behaviours on vulnerable road users. It is the first piece of committee work I have been part of as a member of the Legislative Assembly’s Economic and Infrastructure Committee. For months our cross-party committee has been working hard to understand the impact of road safety behaviours on vulnerable road users. I would like to take some time to thank my fellow committee members: the members for Bellarine, Shepparton, Narracan, Kew, Pascoe Vale and Tarneit. I thank them for their insights, for their collegiality and for their passion for this important issue.

We spent many weeks hearing from experts across the Victorian community, and I would like to also thank them for their insights they shared with the committee. We received over 300 submissions, with more than two-thirds coming from individuals. I understand for many discussing the road user behaviour and associated trauma can be a very distressing topic, and I want to acknowledge the important evidence we heard about these very human impacts.

The committee heard from organisations like road safety groups, research institutions, motoring organisations and bodies that represented cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and more. It was a very hands-on process focused on bringing the committee’s work right into our communities. We did not just have hearings here in the CBD, but we also visited Coburg, the member for Pascoe Vale’s area, for hearings in suburban Melbourne and even Shepparton for hearings in Victoria’s mighty regions. To make it as accessible as possible we also held some online hearings. Committee members also travelled interstate, with a visit to the 2023 Australasian Road Safety Conference in Queensland. All of our work has culminated in 56 recommendations, which build on the Allan Labor government’s existing work in this space. With that, I do want to acknowledge the leadership of the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Minister for Public and Active Transport and the Minister for WorkSafe and the TAC, who all have a shared interest in this space. Our committee’s work has found perceived road user behaviour has changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a perception of increased behaviours like aggression, impatience and inattention. While the experts acknowledge it is all too early to understand the full cause and consequence of perceived changes since COVID, we do know that there has not been a significant change in road infrastructure or vehicles to explain the increase in road trauma.

There is a lot the Victorian government is doing in this space, and the committee commends these actions to drive down the road toll. In doing so we encourage government to continue with investments and policies to keep all road users safe, not just motorists but also cyclists, pedestrians, motorcycle riders and more. More specifically, the committee recommends looking into policies like speed-zoning guidelines, road design and vehicle safety and accident reporting processes, so we can continue our work to aim towards a lower and lower road toll. Every tragedy on our roads is one too many, and it is so important to get that number of road user deaths down to zero. There is plenty in this space that we disagree on, but regardless of where we sit on the political spectrum we all share that goal of keeping Victorian road users safe, and this committee report will contribute to that work.

I would also like to point out that none of our committee’s work would have been possible without the terrific secretariat, comprised of the people just behind me: Kerryn Riseley, Marianna Stylianou, Alyssa Topy and Adeel Siddiqi. My thanks go to all of them and to our committee chair the member for Bellarine and also the deputy chair the member for Shepparton. I commend the Economic and Infrastructure Committee’ s report to the house and look forward to the government’s response in due course.

John Mullahy MP
Author: John Mullahy MP

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