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National Road Safety Research Framework – Preliminary Workshop Report & Draft Framework released (NHMRC & ACRS)

A preliminary report following the workshop hosted by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the College in February 2013 was recently released.

Executive Summary

On 21 and 22 February 2013, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS) hosted a workshop aimed at developing a national road safety research strategy.  Forty-five stakeholders from around Australia including economists, policy makers, lobbyists, health professionals, researchers and scientists, met to discuss a research strategy, determining national research priorities in line with the current National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 and the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.  A list of workshop participants is at Appendix 1.

The research strategy aims to provide a high quality and effective framework for efficient research, development and evaluation activities, with the longer term goal of decreasing the rate of fatalities and injuries on Australia’s roads.

Day 1 focussed on the high level framework of the research strategy and opportunities for implementing and monitoring.  Day 2 was planned to refine the details of a research strategy and plan for implementation.  Representatives from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and NHMRC presented at the workshop and provided information around funding in this area, including different funding schemes and how researchers could apply.  Key researchers provided background on the 1997 National Road Safety Research and Development Strategy, including what has been learnt and what a new research strategy could look like.

Implementation and clear governance arrangements are integral to the lasting success of a research strategy, as stakeholders reported the lack of any monitoring and implementation strategies were major flaws in the 1997 Research Strategy.  The Department of Infrastructure and Transport presented governance information and commented on the changing landscape in this sector.  The remainder of the workshop involved interactive sessions where small groups discussed the research strategy, potential ownership of the strategy, what resources would be needed for ongoing maintenance, where the funding opportunities may be, and how the strategy could be monitored and evaluated over time.

Participants also discussed research priorities and the current issues and gaps in the road safety sector.  Examples of suggested priorities include the economical impact/costs of accidents, post-crash response, road and vehicle design, and safety.  Issues and gaps included data, funding opportunities, alternate modes of transport, and influences outside the transport system, communication, community acceptance, research methodology and capacity building.

The desired outcomes of the workshop were to identify the barriers, gaps and opportunities for research in the road safety sector in order to improve the coordination and concerted promotion of road safety research efforts across Australia.

The main outcomes of the workshop included agreement and consensus on the need for a research framework that could be monitored and updated on an annual basis – possibly at the annual ACRS conference.  Outcomes also included the need to look closely at implementation of the framework, including the possibility of a joint NHMRC/NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust Fellowship and a NHMRC Partnership Centre.

The core of the framework was discussed by attendees, and a planning group representative of the variety of stakeholders was established to further develop and advise on the consultation needs of this research framework.  NHMRC and ACRS will work with the drafting group and provide secretariat support to finalise the framework and plan for implementation.

The Office of the National Health and Medical Research Council (ONHMRC) and ACRS have considered the information described at the workshop, and in consultation with workshop participants, developed this workshop report. 

Read the Preliminary Report here, and the Draft Framework here.