Acceptable Transport Safety

Research Paper 30 1995-96

Matthew L James
Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Group


Tables and figures

Major Issues

All transport activities involve some risk but while the community may not know whether safety levels are acceptable or not, governments are left to regulate against potentially dangerous practices. Statistics do suggest that Australia's transport safety standards and accident levels are reasonable although transport accidents cost around $6.6 billion every year. Motor vehicle accidents lead the rates found among transport modes and they also contribute the greatest economic costs to the nation of around $6.1 billion annually.

Calculation of accident costs and safety benefits help to identify relative risk management strategies for each mode of transport. These assist decisions on relative safety and accident hazard risk. However, common safety practice across all modes also provides some useful insights as it is the cost, severity and frequency of accidents that matter to travellers - not the mode. By analysing all of these aspects, it is possible to assess acceptable transport safety levels.

International air safety has greatly improved during this century with advanced technology providing much assistance to counter the main accident cause - human error. Australia has a tripartite structure of Commonwealth agencies to manage air safety matters but on the whole the industry has tended to lag behind international practice. Keeping air safety investigation agencies apart from regulatory agencies has been a key factor overseas, while just as important here is the harmonious development of a cooperative aviation industry.

Australia's major airlines such as Qantas and Ansett can maintain their exemplary safety record with jet-powered aircraft. The impact of government on air safety has been the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry that may continue. This inquiry has not found evidence of any deterioration in overall air safety, except for the charter flights sector. In 1993, the latest year for which data is available, the total community cost of 320 aviation accidents in Australia was $76 million.

Road accidents remain a major costly problem to the whole community accounting for about 15 per cent of years of productive life losses. Australia's record could still improve although our death rate per hundred-million vehicle kilometres of 1.4 is not far behind the United States, Canada or Britain. Individual responsibility for accident prevention is often lacking. Road safety management remains divided between Federal, State and Local Government agencies, with a new national strategy and plan offering some coordination and goals. Their imposition of safety restrictions on the driving community sometimes meets strong resistance, suggesting that some innovative technological solutions may be more effective.

Reflecting the scattered nature of rail operations in Australia, rail safety has developed in an ad hoc manner, largely through the application of industry standards. New State rail safety regulations have received some national acceptance but there remains no national rail safety agency. Given the Federal policy for open access to rail infrastructure nationwide, there is a need for more action towards achieving uniform national safety and operating standards. Note that Australia averages around 100 rail accidents annually that in turn average around $1 million each in terms of cost to the community.

International shipping safety remains a problem due mainly to commercial pressures on unregulated operators. Australia observes international conventions directed towards improving sea safety and has taken some action to ensure compliance by visiting ships. Private small boat safety remains largely a State or local issue without national coordination. Each year in Australia, some 1 000 marine accidents occur involving serious injury or death on board boats or ships, costing the nation over $300 million.

Transportation safety investigation of accidents varies around the world but recent American practice favours a joint transport mode approach to the issue. Australia has instead pursued an ad hoc approach involving separate safety agencies with no clear separation between investigative and regulatory bodies. Combining our agencies into one independent organisation may offer new perspectives on and efficiencies in transport accident analysis. Through the information that it provides, analysts will be better able to determine for each mode just what are the levels of acceptable transport safety.

Such an independent organisation of around 100 staff, with annual funding of $9 million, would investigate around 1 300 air, rail and sea accidents annually that cost the community $476 million in 1993. Including 90 road safety program staff with a budget of $8 million plus program costs may provide cost efficiencies in addressing the problem of an annual $6.1 billion in road accident costs facing the Australian community. This seems to be a very small price to pay towards helping to improve transport safety in Australia but moreover would constitute a committed, national approach to our accident problems.

Introduction: Acceptable and Affordable Safety

When Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith promoted the term "affordable safety" for airlines, many people in air transport scoffed at the idea. Nonetheless, the concept of paying for air safety is an issue. This extends to the wider transport sector too, as in fact the community as a whole must bear the cost of road or rail accidents, marine disasters and air crashes. Questions arise as to what limit the community is prepared to accept such incidents and whether it is possible to improve transport safety to higher levels.

Almost all human activities involve some risk, so public policies have to balance possible extra risks against ascertainable benefits (Withers 1988, 4). This assessment may evaluate expenditures on risk mitigation and whether certain activities should occur or not. The concept of a risk threshold or "acceptable risk" arises, based on the assumption that there is a non-zero probability of occurrence below which the public is willing to accept the risk.

Thus acceptable safety is a level where the advantages of increased safety are not worth the extra costs of reducing risk. By implication, this is also a level of affordable safety, although this terminology implies a direct cost measure of risk management actions. On the other hand, acceptable transport safety involves a qualitative judgement of the community's willingness to accept a certain level and consequence of accidents without any action. In this sense, risk is a measure of both hazard level and public outrage.

There is often not as much public concern about transport deaths such as on the roads compared to those occurring at fixed installations such as factories. This is possibly due to lack of a geographical focal point with the former, a relatively low social risk and general acceptance of road transport systems particularly.

This paper examines the statistical and historical cost records of accidents in each of the main transport modes in Australia and contrasts them with some comparable countries. It outlines the regulatory arrangements and policy options available for safety programs. It concentrates on the matter of transportation safety investigation and notes different possible arrangements. Finally, the paper considers the establishment of a multi-modal transportation safety investigation agency. With public acceptance of such an agency, safety regulations would receive better awareness, understanding and acceptance.

Safety Assessment

Accident statistics provide some information on safety but do not directly measure it unless there is a statistical relationship over time (HORSC 1995a, 30). The frequency of accidents is not by itself a complete measure of safety, especially as the events that safety management seeks to eliminate have already occurred in the statistics. Also, the number of accidents is usually small compared to total activity and is subject to fluctuations of chance. The Reason Model of Systems Safety conceives of an organisational accident in which latent failures, arising mainly in the managerial and organisational spheres, combine adversely with local triggering events (weather, location, etc), and with the active failures of individuals at the sharp end (errors and procedural violations) (HORSC 1995a, 71). Together, these all combine to cause accidents, so safety becomes a complex matter.

It is possible to assess the adequacy of existing safety standards in general terms by comparing the published requirements and standards of the world's regulatory authorities. There are two issues to consider in order to assess the adequacy of standards, namely, whether existing standards are adequate or if the process for establishing them is suitable (ibid, 91).

Australia follows accepted international standards for transport safety. The responsibilities for compliance with legislation and regulations rest with the transport industry and users.

The role of government regulation in transport safety has been to guard against actions that are potentially detrimental to society. Although commercial transport operations may ensure safe operations in the long term, in the short term a sufficiently high and consistent degree of safety may not prevail. Accident statistics show that private operators may not maintain sufficient safety standards despite their best intentions. Government regulation protects the public and operators alike, but needs to achieve a balance of acceptability.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides standardised classifications for mortality and morbidity, the science of nosology. The WHO International Classification of Diseases defines a transport accident as 'any accident involving a device primarily for, or being used at the time primarily for, conveying persons or goods from one place to another' (BTCE 1992, 89). This provides a basis for statistical analysis of transport accident records, but before doing so, readers should take caution before drawing immediate conclusions.

Different measures of risk can sometimes provide quite different impressions. As an example, the number of accidental deaths per million tons of coal mined in the United States has decreased steadily over time, indicating a safer industry. However, the rate of accidents per one thousand coal-mine employees has increased over the same time (Mayo & Hollander 1991, 52). Mortality rates also fail to reflect the fact that some hazards cause death at much earlier ages than do others. In this regard, the fatality statistics shown for a range of activities in Table 1 should not be viewed as the last word. Nonetheless, they provide a guide to relative risks, in this case in the United States. Another way of viewing this matter is to calculate the average loss of life expectancy due to the exposure to the hazard based on deaths distributed as a function of age. Table 1 also shows these figures. An indication of uncertainty in these assessments as well as the costs and benefits of available options would be useful for more balanced assessments. Nonetheless Table 1 holds few surprises.

Table 1. Mortality due to risk in the United States

Risk category                   Fatality rate          Days of life
                           per 100 000 people       lost per person
Motorcycling                             2000
Aerial acrobatics                         500
Smoking (all causes)                      300                  2250
Parachuting                               200
Smoking (cancer)                          120                   980
Firefighting                               80                   300
Hang gliding                               80
Coal mining                                63                  1100
Farming                                    36
Motor vehicle accident                     24                   207
Police work                                22
Boating                                     5
Rodeo performer                             3
Hunting                                     3
Fires                                     2.8
Marine accident                          0.08
Aircraft accident                       0.075
Floods                                   0.06
Lightning                                0.05
Rail accident                           0.051
Meteorite                            0.000006

Sources Mayo & Hollander 1991, p.53; Sabey & Taylor 1980.

While some accidents kill only one person at a time, others can kill hundreds or more at once. In this sense, air crashes are infrequent and high consequence events compared with frequent and perceived lower consequence events in which single individuals die each time. People may view infrequent hazards as unlikely but their effects may be much more devastating. As an example, if a comet or fragment hit the Earth, the immediate and long-term effects on the planet would be extensive and immutable. Yet few people can conceive of this event, despite the fact that just such an incident apparently wiped out the dinosaurs in the past and is predicted to occur again.

Accident Costs

The social cost of transport accidents in Australia, including road, rail, aviation and marine events, includes the costs of lost earnings, foregone contributions, pain and suffering, property damage, insurance administration, delays, medical and legal expenses and accident investigation. A conservative estimate of the cost to Australian society of transport accidents in 1988 was $6.6 billion (BTCE 1992, xiii). Of this, road accidents contributed $6.1 billion, aviation $64 million, rail $94 million and sea $264 million. The largest cost components were property damage of $2 billion, pain and suffering at $1.4 billion and lost earnings of $1 billion.

Table 2 provides the latest updates of these cost estimates showing that both accident rates and costs have declined in all categories except for marine accidents. Surface transport data shows that, of the total domestic freight task of 266 billion tonne kilometres, road takes 34 per cent, rail 29 per cent and sea 36 per cent. Later discussion will consider each of these transport mode categories in turn.

Table 2. Costs of Accidents in Australia

Accident type       Person
and year        fatalities      Person Injury (Numbers)        Cost to the Community
                               Hospital   Medical    Minor     Nominal($m)  1993($m)
                               ---------------------------    ----------------------
1988 Air                 70         44        55      461            64.0         80
1993 Air                 67         57        64      438            76.0         76
1988 Rail                96        154        61     1111            94.5        120
1993 Rail                49         88       113      488            69.0         69
1988 Road              2875      25187     71760    83291          6100.0       7746
1993 Road              1732     17000+    47000+     n.a.         6100.0+       6100
1988 Sea                 69        680                              264.0        318
1993 Sea                 73        901                              316.0        316

Sources BTCE 1994, 1995a, 1995c, 1995d.

A maximum value on safety expenditure may be equivalent to the Value of Life (VoL) or the amount of money society is prepared to spend to avoid a single fatality. British Rail (Railtrack) currently places a value of $4 million on VoL while the United Kingdom Department of Transport places a value of only $1.5 million on VoL (ibid, 13). In considering remedial measures to improve transport safety such agencies may also consider other risks such as environmental effects, business success, economic changes and political implications. Note that some people criticise the valuation of life and injury done in this way.

The affordable safety argument concerns the appropriate manufacturing standards for transport vehicles and the cost benefit analysis of manufacture, operation and maintenance. If the costs of imposing safety standards are too high, fewer people will travel due to higher charges and more people may use less safe transport. This is a matter of assessing the relative safety of some transport vehicles compared to others, based on safety resource allocation. The following section discusses cost benefit analysis before turning to risk management practices that ensure a logical flow of resources among modes and activities.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Cost benefit analysis (CBA) provides a framework in which risk evaluators can make rational decisions about alternative options in a consistent manner. CBA involves quantification and possible valuation of the costs and benefits associated with various options and the estimation of the present value of their net benefits spread over time. The costs and benefits are those that society bears and include time savings, safety and environmental effects even though these may have no identifiable market price (Spiro & Parfitt 1995, 215). CBA helps decision makers establish whether the expected benefits of a scheme justify the costs and to deploy resources in a way that maximises net benefits.

Public sector investment decisions often utilise CBA, such as in road investments in which safety-related benefits and costs arise. CBA has also arisen in road safety schemes such as the compulsory wearing of seat-belts. However, other modes have not often utilised such economic safety appraisal techniques although safety authorities in the USA and Canada have used CBA. It provides better definition of objectives, options, costs and benefits but involves problems of estimating risks, the value of life, human and accident factors (ibid, 217).

The costs of measures to prevent or ameliorate the consequences of accidents include:

  • Industry: capital equipment costs, operating costs, reduced revenue, extra training and lost time; and
  • Government: administrative costs, support equipment costs, enforcement and research expenses.

The potential benefits from safety measures include (Spiro & Parfitt 1995, 218):

  • Individuals: reduction of risk (willingness-to-pay), savings in expenses, health impacts, VoL;
  • Property: reduction in unit loss and damage, avoidance of damage to installations and cargo;
  • Users: reduced delays, avoiding loss of commercial reputation (plus national image); and
  • Environmental: cleanup savings, damage repair, industry effects, values placed on amenity, etc.

Risk Management

Arguments about safety are often actually about risk management. Such a case arises in the study of simultaneous independent operations on intersecting runways at Sydney Airport (SSC 1995, E13). The study found that accidents arise under any airport operating mode and so air traffic controllers must include safety margins according to the chosen mode of operation. The real issue is one of relative safety or hazard risk. Risk is the probability or likelihood of a hazard accident event happening, multiplied by its consequences. This is a measurable quantity when there are numerous well-documented instances of the adverse consequences of an event and with a well-defined exposed population. However, risk is not so easily ascertained in the case of high consequence, low-probability events where estimates become uncertain or misunderstood by the public.

Risk management means considering the potential for accidents to occur, as well as their individual cost and severity (Hyndman et al. 1994, 133). It may be a set of formal methods and procedures used to advance safety, through systematic analysis of occurrences and their cause and effect relationships. Risk management provides a framework for assessing large amounts of data and allocation of limited resources for review (ibid, 42) by CBA methods. CBA provides a range of outcomes within risk and sensitivity analysis considerations. It may also be necessary to add the level of public outrage to risk analyses.

Probabilistic Risk Assessment, also known as Quantified Risk Assessment, is a tool used for measuring the relative degree of safety risks resulting from a particular mode of activity or operation within an industry. It involves risk analysis (identification and probabilities), risk evaluation (impacts) and risk control (measures). Risk analysis involves inspection, brainstorming or more structured hazard identification techniques (Atkinson & Hinds 1995, 7) such as safety audits. Risk evaluation uses CBA and decision analysis to estimate expected value of outcomes for further sensitivity analysis. Out of these calculations arise risk control strategies that involve quality assurance type practices.

Such risk management aims to reduce risks and increase safety at a practical level, given the resources and constraints involved, when balanced with the costs of accidents. Fundamental to safety regulation is the principle that risks should be reduced "as low as reasonably practicable" (ibid, 12). A risk reduction measure that involves a grossly disproportionate expenditure in relation to the risk is not reasonably practicable or for that matter acceptable. Zero risk inferred by absolute safety is usually not achievable or affordable. A practical guide to safety management measures by mode is of interest here, especially as public familiarity with transport systems directly influences their operation.

Safety Technology Examples

A safety factor common to all transport modes is the danger of collision with other vehicles. Each mode has traditionally adopted different ways of dealing with this problem, but common approaches may also be possible, as illustrated by a familiar example. While there was a time when our roads carried generally courteous drivers of predictable behaviour, these days it seems to be a general free-for-all. Witness the ever present drag-off from the traffic lights, between 'competing' cars, until they meet again at the next light, for example, or the prevalence of impatient tail-gaters and drivers who change lanes at every opportunity, in a ceaseless quest to be in front of others.

One way to counter this aggressive, unsafe behaviour would be for compulsory installation of collision avoidance equipment that would require cars to keep a set distance behind each other according to the 'two second' rule. This useful guide allows two seconds to lapse between consecutive vehicles past a set point regardless of the speed of vehicles. A two second period allows sufficient time for following vehicles to stop behind leading ones. Any collision avoidance equipment would require an advanced computer control system in order to judge speeds, calculate changing distances and monitor vehicle engines. It would have to reject driver instructions to follow at closer distances and yet maintain safety at the same time. Just such intelligent automatic vehicle control systems are in development under advanced highway management studies.

Traffic alert and collision avoidance systems are already used by large jet aircraft to warn pilots of the threat of impending collision with other planes. They utilise radar detectors and speakers to alert pilots to the presence of approaching aircraft in their vicinity. It is left to the pilot though to take corrective action to avoid collision. Australia's air authorities have decided that all aircraft with over 30 seats must have collision avoidance units installed by 1999. Similar systems could just as well apply to ships and small boats. Many ships utilise radars and collision warning systems to help avert disasters but few boats have such units. Given that the majority of maritime accidents involve small boats possibly the installation of collision avoidance equipment is a pressing necessity.

However, the installation of such equipment in transport vehicles requires general community acceptance of the need and cost of such measures, plus a willingness for government agencies to regulate, monitor and enforce them for each mode. Such a change in attitude came about when the compulsory wearing of vehicle seatbelts began in response to road carnage. An interim step may be for say a police crackdown on dangerous road behaviour or greater supervised pilotage of vessels, but at a cost to the transport system. The next few sections cover each of the transport modes in turn. They provide a comparison of modal safety approaches used in Australia, commencing with aviation.

Air Safety

Over the decades, the frequency and length of airline flights has grown enormously while the fatalities per passenger kilometre have dropped just as dramatically. Besides the strong industry interest in fostering air safety are the structural conditions that foster safety, such as the fact that political and financial elites often fly, along with the importance of past experience (Perrow 1984, 127). With extensive experience and considerable government support the industry has been able to maximise its approach to safety. However this has not necessarily led to even safer practices and noteworthy, horrific air crashes still occur.

More and more aircraft now fly faster than before often in poor weather and with limited fuel, through the use of automated systems. These have increased operational effectiveness but not really reduced crew workloads. Human error remains the largest problem while aviation equipment has built-in safety, redundancy and sensitivity to human factors. Other aircraft movements compound the complexity of aircraft operation. Air traffic control has to judge proper separation sometimes without total information. This ground control actually has two conflicting functions of assuring safety and expediting passenger service.

There are several international practices which influence transportation safety. These range from formal multilateral conventions in the air and marine modes to bilateral or national industry and government co-operation for specific sectors (Hyndman et al. 1994, 12). The 1944 Chicago Convention recognises the general principle that the regulation of air safety is the primary responsibility of the country of registry. Current international aircraft accident investigation regimes stem from Article 26 of the Chicago Convention that establishes certain obligations on a country, where an accident occurs, to analyse it. The 1951 Council of International Civil Aviation Organisation issued an Annexe 13 to the Convention to set out recommended procedures for investigating aircraft accidents. Even so, the increasing complexity of the industry challenges national regulators to keep pace.

In 1995, with an upward trend worldwide, there were just over 1 200 deaths in around 57 fatal major airline accidents globally. Of these, 589 people died in nine fatal accidents on scheduled jet-powered airline flights. There were 365 fatalities in nine accidents involving non-scheduled passenger aircraft. Regional and commuter airlines suffered 24 fatal accidents in which a total of 219 people died, while 15 accidents to cargo flights accounted for 42 aircrew deaths (Learmount 1996, 24). The majority of these crashes resulted from aircrew error. Note that these figures exclude greater numbers of general aviation accidents.

Australian Air Safety

In Australia, 320 aviation accidents in 1993 cost the community $76 million, or $237 500 per accident. Figure 1 shows our aviation accidents over recent years. The average cost of the 36 major airline and general aviation fatal accidents in 1993 was about $1.6 million, while the non fatal ones cost around $70 000 each (HORSC 1995a, 19). The total costs of fatal accidents of fare paying passengers on low capacity regular airline and charter is estimated as $8 million.

Figure 1. Australian Civil Aircraft Accidents

Figure 1. Australian Civil Aircraft Accidents

Note: Civil Aircraft Accidents includes charter, agricultural, training, survey, private, business and low capacity regular public transport (airline) aviation incidents.

Source HORSC 1995a, p. 32.

Our relatively low accident rate reflects the relatively good weather conditions, flat topography and uncongested air routes found across Australia, when compared with northern nations. However it could still improve as air accident rates are affected by many factors including weather, equipment failure, system failure, human error and failure of ground aids (CASA 1995, 16). Accident rates and trends are a measure of the total system performance including aircraft operators, maintenance, manufacturers, airport operators, search and rescue, meteorology services and private participants.

Many aviation industry players are active in air safety work. These include airlines, aircraft operators, pilots and their various associations. Also involved are manufacturers, aviation maintenance agencies and the respective unions. It would seem that the only level of acceptable air safety to them is for no accidents to occur at all. In Australia until 1992, the Commonwealth directly assumed financial responsibility for public interest air safety regulation, but now the administrative arrangements and funding have changed. A tripartite arrangement manages provision of safe aviation services as now described.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has the mission to maintain, enhance and promote the safety of civil aviation in Australia, through effective safety regulation and by encouraging a greater acceptance by industry of its obligation to maintain high safety standards (CASA 1995, 5). It intends to achieve these goals by means including:

  • developing and promulgating appropriate, clear and concise aviation safety standards;
  • developing effective enforcement strategies to secure compliance with aviation safety standards;
  • issuing certificates, licences, registrations and permits;
  • conducting comprehensive aviation industry surveillance, particularly safety related matters; and
  • conducting regular and timely assessment of international safety developments.

The Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI) is responsible for investigating accidents and incidents involving civil aircraft operations in Australia. BASI activities focus on promoting safe aviation, with particular interest in fare-paying passenger operations, by examining selected occurrences and safety deficiencies (DOT 1995, 20). With an annual budget of $6.7 million, BASI has 80 staff and publishes regular reports and information.

The safety of air navigation is the most important consideration of AirServices Australia (ASA). The principal activities of ASA cover airspace management, air traffic control, traffic and flight information, search and rescue, navigation services, aeronautical information, rescue and firefighting, as well as environment monitoring (ASA 1995, 4). A special ASA project is implementation of The Australian Advanced Air Traffic System due for completion in early 1998. The system will enable ASA to manage all enroute services from two centres at Brisbane and Melbourne. ASA is developing a risk analysis model to determine risk levels associated with current and proposed methods of managing Australian airspace, as part of its airway's safety work. It has a target to reduce air traffic incidents per 100 000 aircraft movements from over six in 1994/95 to below four in the short term, and progressively decrease them to nil (ASA 1995, 69).

The mission of the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC) is to provide world class airport services to Australia. The FAC owns 22 primary, regional and general aviation airports across Australia but not all such facilities found here. In its operation of airports, the FAC has a goal to have due regard for ensuring safe practices in airports at all times.

North American Experience

In the United States a policy goal of zero aircraft accidents is a shared responsibility of government, industry and labour organisations as well as each individual member of the aviation community (HORSC 1995a, 13). Despite airline deregulation the aggregate safety performance of the industry has remained exemplary although accident rates may rise with poor airline financial performance (ibid, 54). Ongoing safety concerns arise from the financial pressure on firms, new entrants, customer shifts and congestion (Moses & Savage 1989, 6). The emergence of the hub travel system that channels all flights through central hub airports for passenger transport has offered cost economies to airlines. Overall, people travel more safely now, although on certain lower traffic routes safety has declined on small craft, while hub congestion is also a concern (ibid, 310-3).

The case of Canada serves as an interesting counterpoint to Australia's difficulties in air safety administration. Until 1989, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board (CASB) continued to report to Parliament through the Minister of Transport. Following a major air crash in 1985, the "CASB's credibility was so seriously compromised by internal disputes that it was effectively destroyed as a public agency"(Hyndman et al. 1994, 5). New arrangements then prevailed in much the same way that Australia now has two bodies CASA and ASA.

In essence, where the investigative agency is part of the regulatory authority or transport department, there is a potential for conflict of interest that casts a shadow on credibility. In the Canadian view, the most important element of a successful air safety agency is not written in law or administrative structure but is simply a desire for all parties to work together in a professional manner with compromise and cooperation (ibid, 9). Such a lesson is important for us to observe given our recent crisis in air safety administration.

Air Safety Improvements

The impact of government on Australian air safety has been the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry that may continue. This inquiry has not found evidence of any deterioration in overall air safety, except for the charter flights sector. The report proposes mandatory reporting of charter airline safety records, noting that major airline safety resource allocation in Australia exceeds the standard requirements. The report does propose the following characteristics of a world best practice regulator of aviation safety (HORSC 1995a, 9):

  • legislation that assists the regulator to perform its tasks effectively;
  • clear articulation of the objectives of regulation, strategies and performance indicators;
  • special emphasis on aviation safety indicators (currently lacking here - HORSC 1995a, 125);
  • adequate information and knowledge of the aviation industry and especially safety aspects;
  • processes that can develop a good working relationship within the air transport industry;
  • a cohesive organisation of adequately trained and skilled personnel with effective leadership; and
  • adequate processes and skills in developing effective safety standards and ensuring compliance with an effective system of accountability.

Aviation is a highly technical and regulated industry that tends to seek out the leading advances in technological progress. With the move towards automated air traffic control systems, collision avoidance equipment, advanced meteorological and navigational information systems and other innovations, safety levels should improve further. However this still depends on proper training, regulation and enforcement controls. All of the main regulatory agencies must perform appropriate CBA and risk management studies.

Safety improvements for the airline industry could possibly include a range of measures. They might restrict private aircraft operation in the vicinity of congested main hub airports or charge landing, congestion and control fees because airports are scarce economic resources. Further measures could include a ticket tax for government investment in safety and an increase in the numbers and training level of air traffic controllers (Moses & Savage 1989, 316-20). Other techniques might police the sale of second-hand aircraft spare parts to ensure their quality and also install collision avoidance warning systems on all aircraft. Overall it appears that for aviation a suitable goal for acceptable safety is for zero accidents, despite the costs involved. At least this is the goal of most agencies involved in the aviation industry. Given that this sector remains under tight national control such a goal appears achievable. This is certainly not the case as yet for the land transport sector.

Land Safety

Road Safety

People associate road accidents with a common activity that almost everyone needs so their perception of risk is often not recognised until they are personally affected (Sabey & Taylor 1980, 44). Accordingly, the concept of "acceptable risk" has not applied globally to road safety so that formal target setting lacks wide adoption. While we consider road safety risks mostly in relation to the community as a whole, it is the risks as seen by individuals which frequently determine the successful outcome of countermeasures (ibid, 46). Compounding this problem is the perceived low risk to individuals of accident and injury involved while accidents present a major problem to the community as a whole.

Road accidents remain a major cause of death in many countries, with around 400 000 people dying from them around the world every year (OECD 1994b, 9). The world's lowest death rates per hundred-million vehicle kilometres are 1.2 in the United States and 1.1 in the United Kingdom, with Australia close by at about 1.4 (Winter 1996). Figure 2 shows world road accident trends per 100 000 population and suggests that Australia has a reasonable ranking. Here, death rates are generally higher in rural areas, although there is variation between states. In OECD countries, about one to two per cent of gross national product is lost annually due to road accidents (Zaal 1994, i). Road deaths account for almost 15 per cent of years of productive life lost by all causes, excluding disability injury, in Australia (FORS 1992, 1). In Australia, for each road fatality there are over ten serious injuries which means that every year some 20 000 people require hospitalisation (ibid, 7).

Figure 2. Road Accident Fatalities per 100 000 Population in Selected Countries

Figure 2. Road Accident Fatalities per 100 000 Population in Selected Countries

Source Winter 1996, p.1 (per FORS).

Factors contributing to road accidents comes mainly from the user, secondly from the road environment and finally from the vehicle. The road user factors contributing to accidents arise chiefly from poor execution (speed, following distance, behaviour), perceptual errors (judgement), impairment or lack of skill. Adverse environment features include poor road design, conditions, bad markings or obstructions. Vehicle factors primarily relate to tyres, brakes, steering or lights (Sabey & Taylor 1980, 51-53). The risk of injury stems from inadequate vehicle occupant protection and absence of protection for pedestrians and cyclists. Road safety targets assist agencies to achieve realistic programs, usually involving a small percentage reduction in accident fatality or casualty rates over several years. Agencies use prevention strategies of environment or engineering solutions, education and enforcement.

While road traffic accidents have to an extent been acceptable to the community in the past there are signs that unrestricted vehicle usage is no longer an end in itself, partly for social reasons. A trend of generally decreasing road accident rates over recent decades has now begun to stall. It is becoming increasingly difficult to further reduce the number of fatalities and casualties in highly motorised countries (OECD 1994b, 9). In the twelve months to June 1994, the Australian road toll was 6.5% higher than for the same period in 1993 (NRTAC 1995, 5). The 1995 national toll was 4% higher than in 1994 (FORS 1996).

In Australia, road safety administration falls under the province of many agencies. The Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS) and State traffic authorities have planning responsibility linked to the National Road Trauma Advisory Council and the Road Safety Council. FORS guides the development of measures to reduce the incidence and severity of road crashes and maintains an extensive accident database. It develops standards, policies and road safety public education programs to improve the safety of road users and administers motor vehicle standards for safety, emissions and noise levels (DOT 1995, 35). FORS has around 90 staff and an annual budget of $7.7 million plus safety program running costs. Among other organisations interested in road safety are motoring bodies, police, vehicle manufacturers, community groups and commercial transport operators.

The 1992 National Road Safety Strategy and 1994 National Road Safety Action Plan are a package of measures that provides a framework for local plans and ongoing monitoring. The Strategy is the first national approach by all levels of government as well as industry and community groups to reduce the road toll. The Strategy involves agency coordination, commitment, cost-effective prioritisation plus research and development (FORS 1992, 1). Victoria and New South Wales have already formally set respective goals for 30 per cent and 25 per cent reductions in the road toll by the year 2000. The National Strategy aims to reduce annual road deaths per 100 000 people to below 10 by the year 2001. Key priorities include alcohol and drug abuse, speeding, vehicle occupant protection, driver fatigue, road hazards, heavy vehicles, novice drivers and riders, plus improved trauma management. The Action Plan involves development of codes of safety, road audits, alcohol and drug use programs, driver education and training measures involving police, schools and traffic agencies. Safety audits have resulted in changes to road design standards and processes.

Separate national road safety programs include the National Bicycle Strategy and the Black Spots Program. The latter $270 million Program operated from 1990-91 to 1992-93 and involved 3 176 sites. The decrease in injury crashes at sample Program sites was over two-and-a-half times similar locations, with fatalities falling by one-third (BTCE 1995b, xix). A Program CBA estimate of 3.9 for the overall schedule of acceptable treatments, shows a level of good targeted returns. The Bicycle Strategy is under implementation. Other road safety policy recommendations include (Moses & Savage 1989, 327-9):

  • through inspections, identify hazardous zones and time periods to enable road improvements;
  • establish a central computer inventory of accidents, safety violations and property damage; and
  • evaluate speed limit monitoring programs and impose better law enforcement and penalties.

It appears that traffic law enforcement requires increased surveillance levels and penalties. Automated enforcement devices provide the most cost-effective means (Zaal 1994, ii) and include speed cameras, red light cameras plus vehicle alcohol and seat belt use detectors. However, more work could be performed in the area of risk management and CBA.

Various user, vehicle and road programs can help to reduce road accidents and injuries. Authorities can impose regulations on users such as drinking restrictions, speed limits and can apply more enforcement, public education, training and legislation. Requirements for vehicle maintenance, tyre and brake standards are feasible. Road geometry, surfaces, lighting and traffic management may also assist, especially with a community expectation of traffic calming and public transport measures along with integrated transport and land use planning strategies. It is not clear where limits apply; for instance, if a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour applied in cities, fewer people would die, but traffic delays and public outrage would grow. Again, restricting car use to people over 25 years old may lower the road toll substantially but alienate part of the community.

How safe is safe enough is a very real question though and challenges attitudes to risk. There may exist a tendency, at political levels or by ordinary road users to put forward attitude problems as the underlying reason for accident occurrence (OECD 1994a, 11). This may neglect the appropriate remedies of an often complicated or expensive nature or that require full responsibility be taken by individual road users. Motivating road users as well as long term behavioural work is important. More draconian measures, such as fixing transponders on all cars to monitor their routes and speeds, requires wide public debate. The community recognises speed, alcohol use and driver fatigue as major safety concerns.

New programs combining ergonomic and engineering approaches are attempting to improve road safety, transport efficiency and environmental quality. Accepting the reality of human factor accident causation, this approach emphasises prevention or reduction in injuries, while not restraining personal freedom. Intelligent Transport Systems and automatic traffic control systems may affect this freedom by providing driver information and monitoring their performance. Such systems support may assist driver detection and assessment of road hazards and provide guidance to deal with specific hazards (Brookhuis & Brown 1992, 38). However, anyone who goes driving must accept that they face a risk of death higher than by taking a plane, bus, train or even walking instead.

Rail Safety

Unlike the road sector, rail transport involves both public and private operators providing the basic infrastructure and transport units. An Intergovernmental Agreement on Rail Safety between the Commonwealth and all States and Territories came into effect in 1995. It aims to establish a nationally consistent approach to rail safety including the accreditation of rail owners and operators, development of uniform technical and operating standards, together with greater accountability and safety. In the event of a serious accident, the owner or operator may request the appointment of an independent investigator for a formal Board of Inquiry, independent of any Coronial Inquiry or operator investigation. Given the open access now available to rail infrastructure, nothing less than a national approach to rail safety is adequate to ensure seamless utilisation across States.

A significant new operator, the National Rail Corporation Limited (NRC) has a mission to provide competitive, profitable and commercially sustainable rail freight transport services in Australia. A principal aim in establishing NRC in 1991/92 was to reform the interstate rail freight business to provide world-class levels of customer services and eliminate publicly funded losses (NRC 1995, 16). A new organisation, Track Australia, should have responsibility for providing interstate rail infrastructure access, maintenance and control. Both organisations coexist with state and private rail authorities with a mission to increase rail freight usage. If rail captured the entire intercity freight growth by 2016, the road toll would drop by only 0.3 per cent (NTPT 1994, 27). Rail accidents average 100 annually.

An executive-level Risk and Safety Committee began in 1995 to assist in giving direction to the management of safety for NRC. The requirement for safety accreditation is a condition for operations in a number of States. An independent standards organisation performed a safety audit of NRC in 1995 to determine that its operations were safe. The recent completion of the new Inter-governmental Agreement on Rail Safety accreditation, together with supporting Australian standards for rail equipment and operations, should establish a framework for mutual recognition of accreditation between states (NRC 1995, 21). There is no international, national or uniform State based reporting system for railway accidents so rail bodies generally compile data for their own purposes (BTCE 1992, 51).

Proper risk management focuses on safety risk rather than monitoring incidents. Railways tend to follow a set of recommended practices governing design and maintenance of equipment. However, new rail safety regulations in New South Wales took effect in late 1993 and have received wide acceptance by other State and Federal rail authorities. The regulations cover matters of operations, rolling stock, the environment, infrastructure and administration. Rail authorities perform hazard safety audits and risk analysis. It would seem then that they believe that no accidents are acceptable in their industry, regardless of the cost and, given the low prevailing rate of incidents, such a goal is not unreasonable.

Sea Safety

Marine accidents include collisions, groundings and explosions and have not decreased in recent times. New technology has raised production pressures to increase efficiency but not safety (Perrow 1984, 171). Much of the marine system is of low status, unorganised and unregulated so that improvements are slow. Maritime accidents and injuries span a wide variety of vessel types and situations ranging from ship sinkings to small dinghy damage. Most events arise from operator error, particularly by the captain, production pressures and nature itself. While incidents are common, manoeuvring to avoid accident is usually possible. Nationwide, there is an annual average of around 1 000 marine accidents involving serious injury or death on boats or ships. Worldwide, in 1994 some 118 ships and 1478 lives were lost at sea (HORSC 1995b, 2) as shown in Figure 3. Figure 4 presents figures for Australia that also include small craft accidents and show a growing trend.

Australia has had problems with safety levels on foreign ships calling here. Some vessels, particularly bulk carriers, have sunk in our waters and/or have damaged our environment. Some ships are actually unseaworthy, others have poorly trained and managed crews and many have poor safety equipment or standards (HORSC 1992, ix). The major factor affecting this state of affairs is commercial pressure on ship operations and ships' masters, smaller crews, ageing vessels and multi-national crewing practices. This requires international pressure and cooperation to remedy, especially given the peculiar nature of an industry that has its operators subject directly to market forces around the world.

Through the operation of worldwide conventions, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) influences the construction and operation of vessels, but the enforcement of operating standards rests generally with the flag state. The IMO International Safety Management Code requires shipowners to establish and operate a safety management system. The International Labour Organisation has various conventions for preventing shipboard accidents and encouraging occupational health and safety. The Organisation's Convention 147 came into force in 1981 to require signatories to establish laws setting minimal international crew standards.

Australian Sea Safety

Figure 3. Total Shipping Casualties and Incidents 1990-1994

Figure 3. Total Shipping Casualties and Incidents 1990-1994

Source AMSA 1995, p. 5; HORSC 1995b, p.2.

Figure 4. Australian Maritime Accident Casualties 1988 & 1993

Figure 4. Australian Maritime Accident Casualties 1988 & 1993

Source BTCE 1995d.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is a mainly self-funded safety agency with the charter of enhancing efficiency in the delivery of safety and other services to the maritime industry sector. AMSA has six key areas of operation (AMSA 1995, 6):

  • Navigational Services: provision of marine navigation aids network and navigation safety policy;
  • Ship and Personnel Safety Services: survey and certification of ships, safety standards, inspection of foreign ships, safe handling of seaborne cargo and qualification of seafarers;
  • Maritime Safety Services: coordination of marine search and rescue through the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, operation of the Australian Ship Reporting System, operation of the "COSPAS/SARSAT" satellite ship distress system and safety communications;
  • Marine Environment Protection Services: provision of planning and response capability appropriate to the threat of marine pollution from shipping in the Australian region;
  • Strategic Development: corporate and strategic planning, the secretariat for Australia's involvement in world maritime forums, legal, public relation or sea safety marketing; and
  • Corporate and Commercial Services: provision of financial management, staff resources, information technology systems, property services, ship registration and crew employment services, to support all of the above.

AMSA's role is crucial in conducting port inspections and promoting ship safety at an international level. Lack of compliance with international convention requirements by some flag states is a major ship safety problem (HORSC 1994, ix). In 1994, AMSA detained some 123 ships following inspections for rectification of mainly minor but important safety problems. Technical support for sea safety, such as collision avoidance systems, would seem to play a secondary role to human and administrative factors.

The Department of Transport and Regional Development Marine Incident Investigation Unit (MIIU) investigates marine incidents as defined by the Navigation (Marine Casualty) Regulations. These include injury or death aboard ships, ship loss, fires, collisions, groundings or disabling, ship damage and serious damage to the environment. Headed by the Inspector of Marine Accidents, the MIIU publishes reports of its investigations to determine risk factors, effective procedures and proper management for the future. The MIIU has five staff and may convene a Board of Marine Inquiry or special investigation. In 1994-95, the MIIU investigated and reported on 12 marine accidents (DOT 1995, 52).

Appropriate risk management is the task of vessel owners and operators in conjunction with maritime safety authorities. AMSA itself is completing a risk management manual but it is not clear as to what extent the organisation can encourage similar work among ship operators. There are no direct safety parameters listed among AMSA's performance indicators. Therefore it appears that the shipping industry accepts losses to a certain extent and operates accordingly (HORSC 1995b, vii). Until greater regulatory and insurance pressures prevail on the maritime industry the level of acceptable safety is not very high.

International Safety Investigation

In one sense, safety is an economic and social good involving the use of scarce resources, so that higher safety levels are only achievable through additional expenditures. Optimal allocation of the safety resource involves a balance between the level of desired safety and the means to achieve it at minimum social and economic cost (BTCE 1992, 71). Government involvement in safety provision and regulation can potentially improve social welfare but questions remain of resource allocation, modal share, balancing fatalities to serious injuries and so forth. A means to improve government action in risk management and prevention is to improve its involvement in transport accident study and reporting.

Transportation Safety Investigation

An examination of overseas practice is instructive in this regard and in particular the administrative structures for independent examination of accidents for all transport modes. An ad-hoc arrangement for safety investigation between transport modes has prevailed in Australia, as previously described, in contrast to Canada and the United States where unified multi-modal transport safety agencies investigate all types of accidents, except road, under the one administrative structure. Australia has followed British practice instead, as outlined below.

In the above countries, road accident investigation tends to remain with local authorities or police, rather than having a coordinated national analytical effort towards determining trends. Note too that in some countries, pipeline safety comes under the jurisdiction of transportation safety agencies. In Australia, the Pipeline Authority constructs and maintains major installations with a view to creating a national integrated system. As a commercial enterprise, its role includes securing the safety, health and welfare of persons engaged in operations. The Authority reports to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy and the Minister for Resources and Energy. Many other pipeline installations are not subject to such controls but they often do have harmonised standards and practices.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act of 1990 established an independent multi-modal agency known as the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC). Reporting annually to Parliament the TSBC acts to advance transportation safety by conducting independent investigation and studies in order to publicly identify safety deficiencies. As an independent agency, the TSBC has a different perspective from the regulatory agencies such as Transport Canada, the National Transportation Agency and the National Energy Board. They were formerly responsible for accident investigation in the marine, rail and commodity pipeline modes of transport.

The TSBC has a Board, Executive Director, Corporate Services Branch, a Safety Analysis and Communications Directorate and an Investigations Operations Directorate. The latter has Branches to investigate marine, air, rail and commodity pipeline incidents. It also has engineering and medicine sections. The other Directorate handles accident prevention, statistics, human performance and communications. The TSBC provides safety recommendations, advice and information letters. The TSBC has an annual budget of around A$27 million and some 300 staff. The TSBC has adopted most of the Canadian Aviation Safety Board (CASB) structure and processes for its new organisation. Staff from other modal safety agencies essentially shifted into a new administrative structure identical to the CASB, though not without difficulties (Hyndman et al. 1994, 132). While the Canadian accident rates for marine, air, pipe and rail generally declined from 1990, they rose slightly in 1994 to reach 3 849 occurrences (TSBC 1994, 5).

A Review Commission of the TSBC confirmed the validity of Canada's approach to ensuring sound accident investigation based on the existence of an independent and multi-modal accident investigation agency. The merit of this approach to accident investigation was subject to long debate as such an integrated approach is not universally accepted (ibid, 4). Professionals working with specific modes tend to regard their perspective as unique and resist the notion of integrated accident research. The Canadian Parliament foresaw modal integration as a way to recognise that all modes deserve equal treatment and shared technical resources. However, the Review Commission notes with concern that the TSBC still lacks the power to investigate highway and boating accidents (ibid, xv-xvi).

French Arrangements

In France, two separate agencies handle marine and air accident investigations. For marine matters, the Secretariat d'Etat de la Mer (SEM) is the responsible agency, while for aviation incidents, the Bureau Enquetes-Accidents (BEA) is the relevant body.

New Zealand Arrangements

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission determines the circumstances and causes of accidents and incidents to help avoid similar future occurrences. It has existed within the Ministry of Transport since 1990 with annual funding of about NZ$1.3 million. The separate Land Transport Safety Authority has since 1993 been the chief adviser on road and rail safety, but also, among its many activities, issues driver and operator licences and sets road and rail safety standards. It has around 230 staff and an annual budget allocation of about NZ$19 million, excluding funding for land transport initiatives.

Swedish Arrangements

In Sweden, the Statens Haveri Kommission (SHK) investigates accident matters for all modes including road if the nature of the occurrence warrants it. All investigations and files are open to the public although there is no provision for public inquiry.

United Kingdom Arrangements

Safety investigation in the United Kingdom resembles Australian practice. Within the Department of Transport separate Directorates administer mode policies. The Railways Directorate includes a Safety Division and the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority. The Road and Vehicle Safety Directorate has a Road Safety Division. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is responsible for investigating accidents involving British ships, passengers and crews worldwide, and other ships in local waters. The separate Marine Safety Agency manages the implementation of marine safety strategy and the prevention of ship pollution. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) examines civil aviation incidents and provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Defence.

United States National Transportation Safety Board

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) exists to improve safety by investigating accidents, whether aviation, highway, railroad, marine or pipeline in order to determine the probable and contributing causes. It does not establish legal blame. Established in 1975, the NTSB issues advisory reports and safety recommendations as a completely independent government agency. However, regulations prohibit its intervention into airport and airline security matters, to the chagrin of some observers (Nader & Smith 1994, 15). The United States has a separate Office of Pipeline Safety and a Transportation Safety Institute for education, training and technical assistance. The NTSB operates through a Managing Director and Offices of Aviation Safety, Surface Transportation Safety, Administration as well as Research and Engineering.

Multi-modal Agencies

Table 3 summarises the major characteristics of accident investigation institutions in the countries previously mentioned. Canada, the United States and Sweden have single investigative agencies that deal with air and marine and other modes. The United States and Swedish bodies also investigate highway safety. Both the Canadian and United States agencies submit their reports to bodies other than the transportation regulator and have separate funding (Hyndman et al. 1994, 14).

Table 3. Accident investigation in selected countries

                 Australia   Canada      France      Sweden      U.K.        U.S.A.
Agency Title*      M:MIIU      TSBC        M:SEM       SHK         M:MAIB      NTSB
(refer text)       A:BASI                  A:BEA                   A:AAIB

Jurisdiction       Modal       Multi       Modal       Multi       Modal       Multi
Autonomous         No          Yes         No          Yes         No          Yes
Full-time Board    No          Yes         No          No          No          Yes
Board Members      ad hoc      5           ad hoc      none        ad hoc        5
Public Inquiries   No          Yes         No          No          No          Yes
Authoriser         Minister    Board       Minister    n.a.        Secretary   Board
Mandatory Report   No          Yes         No          Yes         Yes         Yes

Source: Hyndman et al. 1994, 16-17.

* Note: M - marine, A - aviation.

The United Kingdom, Australia and France have developed mode-specific investigatory institutions that closely link to the transportation regulator. In a reversal of the Canadian situation the Australian accident investigators report directly to the Minister for Transport while the civil aviation authority regulator is autonomous. Between the North American concept of independence and the less autonomous operations in other countries is the United Kingdom where accident reports for both air and marine modes go to the Secretary of State for decision on whether to make them public.

Accident investigation authorities in Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States have recently concluded an agreement to share and exchange transportation safety information under the aegis of the new International Transportation Safety Association. The European Community has taken the first steps towards establishing a trans-national accident investigation entity, while France has studied Canada's TSBC. Australia does not appear to have a role and involvement in these international arrangements.

Combining BASI, MIIU, pipeline and rail investigators into one agency would involve creating an independent Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB). This would unite 100 staff, excluding efficiencies, with an annual budget of about $9 million to investigate some 1 300 incidents annually. This compares to the 300 staff and $27 million annual cost of Canada's TSBC that handles some 3 900 cases each year. Given the annual cost of our air, sea and rail accidents of around $476 million in 1993, a $9 million outlay does not seem to be an excessive investment for better safety. While the TSBC does not undertake road safety investigation work this could be a task of an ATSB if it incorporated FORS as well. This would involve absorbing FORS 90 staff and its annual funding of $8 million.


Australia's overall transport safety standards appear reasonable but they could still improve. The decline in road accident rates in particular appears to be stalling, suggesting a need for more innovative and perhaps even technical programs to help identify and remedy problem areas. They also suggest a need for wider national accident investigation strategies utilising risk management techniques. However, transport modes currently have separate safety agencies responsible for assessing accident trends and advising on precautions. These may perform well but it may be possible to improve their standards still further.

The question remains as to whether existing Australian safety investigation organisations are effective or not and whether their outputs are useful. BASI, MIIU and rail investigations vary widely in their resources, approaches and published reports. Given that accident rates for their modes have not dramatically improved and that air and sea safety practices remain of concern to the community, perhaps a new approach is required. Through the operation of an efficient multi-modal transport safety agency a more acceptable level of transport safety may be possible. It would certainly bear more study.

Australia should consider adoption of its own national transport safety agency to coordinate independent safety investigations into all modes of transport. This would help to overcome the current legacy of competing interests, separate bureaucracies and agencies serving different modes without overall coordination. An Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) could also link to similar multi-modal organisations now emerging in other nations around the world. A multi-modal approach offers advantages of pooling specialised resources in areas such as engineering, medicine and psychology. An ATSB could share the experiences of each transport mode to increase the effectiveness of investigation and analysis.

Management of all transport modes together can increase public confidence that a broad range of skills and experience can be brought to enhance safety. Integration allows the most efficient use of limited resources to deal with those safety deficiencies having the highest risk potential. It is the cost, severity and frequency of risk exposure that matters to travellers, bystanders and the industry and not the transport mode involved. Through a common, consistent approach, evaluation of acceptable transport safety should become possible and available to the wider community.


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ASA 1995, Corporate Plan July 1995 to June 2000, AirServices Australia, Canberra, September.

Atkinson, E. and Hinds, A, 1995, "Considerations involved in Risk Assessment and Analysis", Proceedings: 1995 Transport Safety Forum, IIR Conferences, Sydney, April 20-21.

Brookhuis, K. and Brown, I. 1992, 'Ergonomics and road safety', Impact of Science on Society, No.165, pp.35-40.

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BTCE 1995a, "Costs of Aviation Accidents in Australia - 1993", Information Sheet, No.5, Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics, Canberra.

BTCE 1995b, "Evaluation of the Black Spot Program", Report 90, Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics, AGPS, Canberra, May.

BTCE 1995c, "Costs of Rail Accidents in Australia - 1993", Information Sheet, No.7, Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics, Canberra, December.

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CASA 1995, Corporate Plan 1995-96 to 1997-98, Civil Aviation Safety Authority, AGPS, Canberra, November.

DOT 1995, Annual Report 1994-95, Department of Transport, AGPS, Canberra, October.

FORS 1992, The National Road Safety Strategy, Federal Office of Road Safety, Department of Transport and Communications, Canberra.

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HORSC 1994, Review Inquiry into Ship Standards and Safety: Progress Report, Report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure, The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, AGPS, Canberra, November.

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HORSC 1995b, Ships of Shame - A Sequel: Inquiry into Ship Safety, Report from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure, The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, AGPS, Canberra, November.

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Air Accidents Investigation Branch (United Kingdom)
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
AirServices Australia
Australian Transportation Safety Board
Bureau of Air Safety Investigation
Bureau Enquetes-Accidents (France)
Civil Aviation Safety Authority
Canadian Aviation Safety Board (Canada)
cost benefit analysis
Federal Airports Corporation
Federal Office of Road Safety
International Maritime Organisation
Marine Accident Investigation Branch (United Kingdom)
Marine Incident Investigation Unit
National Rail Corporation Limited
National Transportation Safety Board (United States)
Secretariat d'Etat de la Mer (France)
Statens Haveri Kommission (Sweden)
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Value of Life
World Health Organisation


This is to acknowledge the assistance of John Prytz for seeking out relevant references and the help of Paul Kay for preparing suitable graphics. Thanks are also due to draft readers Tim Winn, Geoff Winter, Rod Panter, Dennis James, Ian Ireland, Gary Brown and Greg Baker for their comments and ideas.


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