The Australian – Monday 27 September 2004

Call for limit on speed in territory

By Andrea Mayes


ROAD safety experts are calling on federal Transport Minister John Anderson to compel the Northern Territory to introduce speed limits on all roads, bringing it into line with the rest of Australia.

Driving speeds are unrestricted on the open road in the territory, and the toll is almost three times that of the rest of the country on a per capita basis; 26.1 fatalities per 100,000 people compared with the Australian average of 9.5.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby said the territory was the only place in the world where speeds were unrestricted on undivided roads, and its road toll was comparable with the Third World.

“It's attributable to a culture which says ‘we're different in the Northern Territory and we do things differently’,” Mr Scruby said.

“Well I can tell you that we're all the same when we're lying in a cemetery.”

He said it was time the federal Government stepped in to override territory laws on speed limits, just as it had with the territory's short-lived euthanasia laws.

“If the federal Government is serious about road safety, it will take action, in the same way it did with euthanasia when only one person had died as a result (of NT law),” he said.

Mr Scruby said the road safety advisory committee of the Australian Transport Safety Board had recently voted unanimously to ask the federal Government to ensure the territory introduced the same speed limits that applied elsewhere in Australia.

Meanwhile, reducing the over-representation of Aborigines in national road toll statistics is the aim of a road safety conference opening in Alice Springs today.

Aborigines die on the roads at 3 1/2 times the rate of non-indigenous Australians and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's Indigenous Road Safety Forum will examine ways for communities to help improve the situation.