AS SAFETY experts lauded a decline in the country's road toll, new figures revealed Tasmania suffered its worst toll in five years as almost twice as many people died per capita than the national average.
The Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics data released yesterday shows there were 41 road deaths in Tasmania in the year to July, an increase of 28 per cent.
All other states and territories recorded a decrease in crash fatalities.
Tasmania was also the only state to see an increase in road deaths in trend terms, with a 6 per cent rise, compared with a 4 per cent decline nationally since 2010.
Tasmania saw eight deaths per 100,000 population, compared with five nationally, the highest after the Northern Territory.
As most states experienced double digit declines in road deaths per capita, Tasmania's increased 28 per cent.
The state government issued caution about interpreting the statistics, pointing out that in 2013 the number of vehicle occupant fatalities per 10,000 vehicles was 0.43. The national average was 0.47.
Due to the relatively small number of fatal crashes in Tasmania, the statistics are subject to volatility, a spokesman for Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said.
"The government is committed to reducing Tasmania's road toll," he said.
"All Tasmanian road users need to take responsibility for their own behaviour and drive to the weather and road conditions."
Nationally the picture was brighter, with some of the lowest road death figures in more than half a century.
In the past five years deaths of young adults (17-25) have nearly halved.
For the first time, the Australian road fatality rate fell below 5 deaths per 100,000 people. This was thanks to a 9 per cent reduction in the national road toll - 1157 people - the lowest annual result since 1945.
On the downside deaths of older people (65 years and over) increased by 13 per cent and more cyclists are dying on the roads.
"Every death on our roads is a terrible tragedy — not only for families and friends who are directly affected, but for local communities and the broader Australian economy," Federal Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs said.
"Although the downward trend of these statistics is encouraging, the government is committed to doing more to ensure our transport networks are safer and more productive across urban and regional Australia."
■ Council seeks $325,000 for road safety: Page 8