Wake up call for rural road safety

It is a frightening statistic, but in New South Wales if you drive on country roads, you are four times more likely to die in a crash than in a metropolitan area.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals' Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said regional Australians are over-represented in road deaths and injuries.

“Even though we make up around a quarter of Australia's population, regional Australians make up more than half of the deaths across the nation,” Mr McCormack said.

“Rural Road Safety Week is an opportunity for our regional communities to stop and reflect on the part we can all play in keeping people safe on our country roads.

“This includes never driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, scanning the road ahead, knowing your limits and planning ahead, taking regular breaks on long drives, never driving through floodwater, being alert for wildlife and livestock and driving to the conditions.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said it's time we dispel the commonly held belief that it is city people or tourists unfamiliar with regional roads who are most at risk.

“The fact is the majority of drivers and riders involved in fatal crashes on country roads are country residents,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Tragically, 250 lives are lost each year in our local, country communities. As a country MP, I know we can take driving on the same roads every day for granted. To think it can't happen to me is just reckless. We need to be better.”

Australian Road Safety Foundation CEO and founder Russell White urged Australians—both regional and city-based—to take ownership of their role in reducing the rural road toll.

“Acknowledging that everyday road users have a personal responsibility is the first step and it's our hope that Rural Road Safety Week will help turn this sentiment into real action,” Mr White said.

Last year, the Australian Government initiated an Inquiry into the effectiveness of the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. The Inquiry report was received by the Deputy Prime Minister on 12 September 2018.

On 4 October at the Australasian Road Safety Conference, the Deputy Prime Minister announced a new Review of National Road Safety Governance which was one of the twelve recommendations from the Inquiry report, and this will look at safety on rural roads.