The Northern Territory has the highest rate of road deaths per capita in Australia, according to the latest Productivity Commission Report on Government Services. In 2020-2021, the territory’s road death rate was four times the national average. The high rate of road deaths in the Northern Territory is not a new issue, as it has had the highest rate of road deaths in the country for more than three decades. This has led to a desensitisation of the issue among residents, with little momentum for change, according to long-term territory parliamentarian Kezia Purick. Unfortunately, this problem seems to be worsening and not just restricted to the Northern Territory. It’s been a nightmare start to 2023 with seven men killed on roads within 52 hours in Victoria.

Northern Territory Road Death Rate 4x the national average

Fifteen years ago, the road death statistics in the Northern Territory were even worse, partly due to the open speed limits along large sections of the Stuart Highway. In 2006, Chief Minister Clare Martin implemented a speed limit of 130kmph, which is still in effect today. According to Martin, “You had nine times more chance of dying on our roads than any other parts of the country,” at that time.
Despite the current figures showing improvement, former Chief Minister Clare Martin believes that the political will to address the issue of road deaths in the Northern Territory has decreased. According to her, “As long as we’re having this [rate of deaths] on our roads, and if we haven’t really looked at those different elements of how to make our roads safer in any major way since 2006, it really could be time to look at it again.”

The remoteness of the territory plays a significant role in the high rate of road trauma. In the Northern Territory, you have 70% of your roads are unsealed. The roads are often plagued with potholes, ruts, and other damage. And we know that rural and remote areas everywhere in Australia tend to have higher levels of road trauma.

Indigenous people affected by road conditions

Indigenous people in the Northern Territory are disproportionately affected by road deaths, making up about half of road fatalities, despite comprising only 30% of the territory’s population, according to University of New South Wales Public Health Professor Rebecca Ivers. This is largely due to the fact that a high proportion of Indigenous people live in remote areas, where they must travel long distances on poor-quality roads in often substandard vehicles. One such road is the Roper Highway, which connects the remote community of Ngukurr to the nearest urban centre of Katherine. This partially sealed road, frequently used for transporting iron ore, is often dangerous for locals like Nola Renwick, who recently experienced a car accident caused by a passing road train.

According to Professor Rebecca Ivers, reducing the speed limit on the Stuart Highway could also help decrease the number of road fatalities in the Northern Territory. “A speed limit of 110 would likely be the most appropriate for the length of the highway, and it would likely lead to a decrease in deaths,” she said. “The safety rating of that road is likely even lower than that.

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Global Road Technology is the answer to improved road conditions

Global Road Technology (GRT) cares about the state of the roads in the Northern Territory because they understand the negative impact poor road infrastructure can have on communities, economies and people’s lives. Road safety is a major concern and the high rate of road fatalities in the Northern Territory is a call for action for the company to provide solutions. Using their products can help improve the safety and quality of the roads in the Northern Territory, and reduce the road toll.
GRT’s CEO Troy Adams said “We are committed to making a positive impact on the communities where we operate. The poor state of the roads in the Northern Territory is a critical concern and we are determined to provide solutions that will improve the safety and quality of the roads for the people living and travelling in the region.” He also added, “We believe that state heads should invest in our products to help improve the road infrastructure in their jurisdiction.”
In summary, GRT understands the importance of safe and reliable road infrastructure and is committed to providing environmentally-friendly solutions that can improve the state of the roads in the Northern Territory. The company encourages state heads to invest in their products to improve road infrastructure and reduce the road toll in the region.