Road safety campaigners have called for a new tax on drivers of utes and large SUVs to try and cut the road toll.
Speaking to a Victorian government enquiry into road safety, Dr Ingrid Johnston of the Australasian College of Road Safety has advocated for a levy on larger vehicles because of the role they play in fatal accidents.
Road deaths are on the rise as sales of SUVs and utes surge in Australia, with almost 75 per cent (74.6%) of all new vehicles sold in the first seven months of 2023 falling into those two categories. So, Dr Johnston wants to try and push Australians away from such big vehicles and into smaller and potentially safer models.
“It’s being done elsewhere,” Dr Johnston told the enquiry. “To disincentivise people from purchasing these cars in the first place, you could increase import tax.
“You could try to disincentivise them being used in the middle of cities, so you could have a levy for bringing a vehicle of a certain size. You could increase registration fees.”
According to the latest sales figures, released at the end of July, the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux remain the two best-selling models in the country. The rest of the top 10 selling vehicles for July featured five SUVs, including the Toyota LandCruiser and Prado, as well as the Isuzu D-Max ute. That left the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 as the only small cars amongst the most popular models.
Therefore adding a new levy or tax on utes and SUVs will be an unpopular move, but there is also evidence something needs to be done to cut the road toll. The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) released data in August that highlighted an increase in road fatalities. According to the AAA report, 1234 Australians died on the road in the 12 months to July 2023, an 8.4 per cent increase over the previous 12 month period. This comes despite state governments around the country pushing road safety campaigns with a focus on speeding.