Australia has long had a positive approach towards vehicle safety, and has taken initiatives that have influenced the approaches in other countries.
Vehicle safety standards for new vehicles, known as Australian Design Rules, have been implemented on a mandatory national basis since the late 1960's. The Australian system was established essentially in parallel with the corresponding regulatory systems put in place in America and Europe around the same time. There have been progressive changes over the years, and in keeping with developments in the automotive industry Australian requirements have become increasingly international.
There has been an increasing emphasis in recent years on transport efficiency and reform, particularly for heavy road transport. As a consequence, the National Road Transport Commission was established in 1991 to provide greater emphasis on national uniformity and cost effectiveness of government regulation.
The paper therefore looks at the progressive development of Australian requirements, the achievements, the approach to international harmonisation, and some of the challenges for the future. Although the paper largely focuses on vehicle safety standards, it also touches upon the need for all road safety measures to complement each other.