The NSW government spent $300 million on road safety in the 2017 budget. Sadly, 392 people died in 2017, which was 12 more than in 2016. The road toll has increased each year since 2014 after decades of steady decline. In three years there were 20% more fatal car crashes and 85% more deaths in light trucks.
What is going on?
First of all, the 2014 road toll of 307 was the lowest since records began in 1923. The government claimed then that its investments and interventions in road safety were working. Compulsory seatbelts, random breath testing and red light and speed cameras were reducing death and injury on the roads.
The government also said this low toll was in spite of more registered vehicles travelling on NSW roads each year. Since 2014, owners have registered 443,121 more vehicles in NSW, up 7.3%.
|Year End||Registered Vehicles||Increase Number|
During 2017, compulsory seatbelts, random breath testing and even more red light and speed cameras were in operation than in 2014. But there was still a tragic increase in the road toll. Road safety experts continue to expect road deaths to fall, even though conditions change because of more and more vehicles.
Road safety measures
The latest road safety package includes these measures:
- Mid-range drink-driving offenders must have breath-testing devices in their cars so they can’t start unless there is a negative reading
- Low-range drink-drivers can now get on-the-spot fines and licence suspensions without going to court
- Speeding trucks can be caught by eleven extra heavy vehicle point-to-point speed cameras
- New safety barriers, rumble strips and upgrades around high risk curves, on country roads.
Rural roads and mobile phones
During 2017, four times more people died on rural roads than in metro areas. While speeding trucks in the country can be caught by average speed cameras, there are no plans to use them for speeding car drivers. Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, cites personal responsibility and not wanting to be seen by country people as “revenue raising”.
However, Minister Pavey will introduce more legislation to enforce mobile phone offences. The government will trial cameras in tunnels or bridges that capture drivers using their mobile phones. Already in some UK counties, police are using mobile cameras to target drivers using mobile phones or not wearing seatbelts.
The government also says it will investigate opportunities to reduce premiums for customers who use safer vehicle technology and telematics. Check your premiums here.