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Doctors: New Vehicle Efficiency Standard will save lives on our roads

Australia's doctors have welcomed the Government’s proposal to introduce a New Vehicle Efficiency Standard, describing it as 'one part of the overhaul of Australia’s transport that is needed to save lives on the roads’.

Doctors for the Environment Australia’s Executive Director and GP, Dr Kate Wylie, says, “Petrol vehicles release air pollutants such as fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides that are released at face level where people live, work, go to school, and travel.”

Research shows that vehicle emissions in Australia are responsible for:

  • 11,105 premature deaths in adults per year;
  • 12,210 cardiovascular hospitalisations per year;
  • 6,840 respiratory hospitalisations per year;
  • 66,000 active asthma cases per year in the 0-18 age group.

Children experience higher exposure to vehicle emissions”, says Dr Wylie. “Their shorter height means they’re closer to exhaust pipes, and they breathe more rapidly than adults while their lungs are still developing.

“Another major vehicle pollutant is carbon dioxide, which causes indirect health harm through climate change, the biggest public health challenge we’re facing.

“Climate change is a major driver of the devastating heatwaves, bushfires, and floods that we are experiencing across the nation and overseas. 

“With transport accounting for 19% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, the Standard will help Australia achieve its climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global heating. 

“Australians will further benefit from a significant 40% reduction in petrol costs for the average new car buyer in 2028. Regional and remote Australians, who drive the furthest, will see the biggest gains. 

“However, we don’t want to see more cars on the road, but better planning to get Australians out of their cars as the primary means of travel. Fewer cars will reduce congestion for the situations where there is no alternative option.

“Active transport such as walking, cycling, or public transport are needed and will save time, money and lives. A shift away from private car use will give more rapid and deeper reductions in transport pollution while improving physical health, make our cities better places to be, and reduce congestion.

“Our vehicle emissions standards are significantly behind other advanced economies. The new standard will finally bring Australia into line with the United States, United Kingdom, EU and the OECD- that will be good for our health, our cities and communities, the planet, and the hip pocket given cost of living pressures.”

Australia’s New Vehicle Efficiency Standard submissions close on 4 March.

Media contact

DEA’s Media and Communications Lead, Carmela Ferraro, 04107 03074

About DEA

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is an organisation of medical professionals that protect human health through care of the environment.
Our members are GPs, surgeons, physicians, anaesthetists, psychiatrists, paediatricians, public health specialists, academics, medical students and researchers.


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