Opinion: It’s safer to fly than use our roads

There are more fatalities on the ground than in the air. While Australia has a long way to go before hopping in the car is safe as jetting off on a 747, a new program is hoping to improve the statistics.

Opinion: It’s safer to fly than use our roads

Insurance News


Zurich’s Mervyn Rea explains why collaboration is the key to solving a problem Australia’s road safety problem.


Flying is one of the safest methods of modern travel – and much safer than roads. It may sound strange but in 2012, Australia recorded 1,301 road fatalities that is equivalent to five A330-200 Airbuses crashing every year.

Flying adheres to strict safety requirements and legislative controls. Even one major disaster involving an aircraft would result in all manner of enquiries and safety improvements but can the same be said of road travel? Whichever way you look at the data, one thing about these numbers is clear - in 2012, 1,301 people failed to return home to their loved ones, because of a road crash. Will we ever achieve similar levels of control and technology on the road as we do in the air?

Vulnerable road users are particularly at risk, especially children, with 500 children becoming victims to fatal road crashes every day globally. In many Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries between 40 and 50% of people, killed as a result of a road crash, are pedestrians.

Road safety is firmly under the national and international spotlight. Car and vehicle manufacturers are installing increased safety features to vehicles, particularly in the more economic end of the market, and see passenger safety as a vital component of product differentiation and marketing opportunity. Governments are also making the necessary changes to legislation and resources to help combat the main causes of road trauma- speed, alcohol and drugs.

The business sector often struggles to come to terms with the vehicle and the road as an extension of their workplace. Each and every road user needs to take ownership of their actions on the road. Traffic volumes are growing at faster rates than ever before and over-burdened infrastructure is struggling to cope. About a third of road fatalities and serious injuries are attributed to work-related driving which means businesses must take better ownership of their responsibilities to ensure that employees who drive, and those members of the public who interact with them, are safe

This has prompted the National Transport Commission to set up a unique road safety partnership program - a fresh approach to road safety that involves strong collaboration between government and business to provide an array of solutions that companies can choose to suit their individual operations, while at the same time measure outcomes. Ultimately this new approach will not only drive innovation and productivity but reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Zurich has played an advocacy role in both the steering committee that helped establish this initiative along with the development of the program. We’ll continue to provide technical support and data analysis for program participants.

Other companies involved in the program represent a wide range of industries including mining, car manufacturing, food and beverage, construction, energy, aged care and transportation industries, as well as government agencies. It’s this collaboration, ongoing support and sharing of best practice that we believe will be critical to ‘strength in numbers’ and a change in attitude to create a positive road safety culture.  

As an industry focused on bringing about meaningful change, we need to face this together and throw our weight behind initiatives such as the National Road Safety Partnership Program to achieve the ultimate goal of getting everyone home safely.

You can find more information on the Australian National Road Safety Partnership Program at http://www.nrspp.org.au/ or the Global Road Safety Partnership at http://www.grsproadsafety.org/


Mervyn Rea is senior risk engineer, national RE customer relationship manager, and head of RE customer management (APAC)

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