NSW government unveils Road Safety Plan


New effort builds on NSW Road Safety Strategy 2012-2021

NSW government unveils Road Safety Plan
Gladys Berejiklian

 

The New South Wales government has begun making good on comments regarding working with the trucking industry to help lower the state’s road toll.

One of the key action points in its newly released Road Safety Plan 2021 is: "Work with the heavy vehicle industry to develop a new heavy vehicle strategy to improve operational safety and increase the uptake of safety technology".

Through the use of partnerships, the plan will see "a new heavy vehicle safety strategy and partnerships with the heavy vehicle industry, including champions of change, to improve safety of the freight task across NSW".

The government will also seek to "enhance communications, initiatives and tools to help employers and industry embed a road safety culture – especially for work related journeys and high risk shift workers".

Much of the focus of a new Saving Lives on Country Roads Program is due to the fatality rate per 100,000 people there, at 10.3, being more than four times the metropolitan rate.

But one of the consequences will be a lowering of the speed limits on routes deemed to be at risk of accidents, both in and outside urban and suburban areas, along with more policing and legal changes.

Part of the latter will involve an expansion of "the heavy vehicle average speed camera program to metropolitan areas to address risks associated with greater truck movements".

The government aims to work with fleet owners generally to increase proactive use of alcohol interlocks in fleet vehicles, and other safety features such as automated emergency braking and lane assist.

On the education front, there will be an effort to develop new platforms and enhanced road safety content in driver testing.

This will include safe interaction with heavy vehicles, motorcyclists, bicycle riders and pedestrians, and support with new digital education for young drivers and their parents or carers.

Trucking will also be impacted on the technology front, with the government saying its will work with the industry to increase safety features in the fleet, such as blind spot monitoring and under run protection, along with enhance integration of fleet safety into heavy vehicle access policy.

It also pledges to work with the federal government to fast-track the adoption of new technologies into vehicle standards, including for commercial and heavy vehicles.

And there is an aim to investigate with the insurance industry opportunities to reduce premiums for customers who adopt safer vehicle technology and telematics.

The technology effort looks set to impact on the government’s own fleet, with the "latest and proven safety technologies, including auto emergency braking, other driver assist technology and 5-star rated commercial vehicles, where available".

It will also explore options to ensure government contractor vehicles meet the same standard.

The strategy, that the government says builds on NSW Road Safety Strategy 2012-2021, will focus on road infrastructure, vehicle technology, speed limits and education, particularly at schools.

 "As a government, we know we can do more and that is why this plan makes it clear if you break the law you will be caught and will pay the price," premier Gladys Berejiklian says.

"We also want to ensure that our public education campaigns are targeted in the right way."

Berejiklian says the measures announced today include:

  • expanding the mandatory alcohol interlock program to include all mid-range drink driving offenders. An interlock is a breath testing device fitted to a car’s ignition system. The driver must provide a negative sample for the vehicle to start;
  • Police will be given the power to issue on the spot fines and licence suspensions for low range drink driving. This ensures swift and certain penalties;
  • amending legislation to allow camera technology to be used to enforce mobile phone offences;
  • 11 additional heavy vehicle average speed camera locations, including in metropolitan Sydney, to address risks associated with greater truck movements;
  • an initial $125 million for a new Saving Lives on Country Roads program including safety barriers, tactile line markings, wide centre line, safety upgrades of high risk curves and $11 million for pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements including traffic calming measures, pedestrian refuges and crossings to keep cyclists and walkers safe.

Roads minister Melinda Pavey says one of the biggest challenges remains on country roads, which accounted for almost 70 per cent of the State’s road toll last year.

"If you live in the country you are four times more likely to die in a road crash than if you live in metro NSW," Pavey adds.

"This is why we will roll out 1,600 kilometres of rumble strips and 300 kilometres in targeted safety works, such as flexible, wire-rope barriers to help prevent run-off-road and head-on crashes on our road network, including the Princes Highway."

The full plan can be found here.

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