Australia, Transport News

NSW weighs in on what the 2022 road toll means

Transport for NSW says the road toll for 2022 may have increased from 2021, but it’s still the third lowest in the state since 1923

Extreme wet weather events, easing of COVID travel restrictions and increased business activities across NSW have contributed to an increase in fatalities, with 288 people dying on NSW roads in 2022.

Tara McCarthy, Deputy Secretary of Safety, Environment and Regulation at Transport for NSW, says while the overall road toll is up from the near 100-year-low of 275 in 2021, the number is below pre-COVID levels of an average 363 deaths a year (2017-19).

“In 2022, as many people returned to the roads and worked on shaping their new normal after two years of COVID restrictions, NSW faced a fresh set of challenges, with record rainfalls battering many parts of the state. Sadly, these factors contributed to an increase in the road toll to 288 from the historic low of 275 recorded in 2021,” McCarthy says.

“Last year’s road toll is the third-lowest in the state since 1923 and remains below the pre-COVID average of 363 deaths a year.”

McCarthy says the NSW government is committed to achieving its goal of zero deaths or serious injuries in NSW by 2050.

“The road toll isn’t just a number. It’s someone’s mum, dad, son, daughter, partner, or friend. Any death or serious injury is one too many and the NSW government is continuing to roll out plans to help drive down our toll,” says McCarthy.

Extreme weather conditions contributed to an increase in fatalities on wet roads across the state compared to 2021.

“Many communities across the state battled challenging weather conditions in 2022, with Sydney recording its wettest year since 1858.  Sadly, 70 people lost their lives around the state on wet roads compared to 44 in 2021,” says McCarthy.

“If you’re travelling this summer, please make sure you slow down and drive to the conditions, especially when the weather is wet. If you come across floodwater, stop, turn around and find another way.”

Fatalities in metropolitan and country NSW climbed to 88 and 200 in 2022 but remained below the 2017-19 pre-COVID average.

“Speeding, drink and drug driving and fatigue continue to be the leading factors involved in death and serious injuries on our roads,” says McCarthy.

“Last year, speeding contributed to 41 per cent of the road toll, with the majority of those being on country roads.

“Drug driving, drink driving and fatigue each contribute to about 14 to 20 per cent of deaths each year.

“We are determined to make journeys in the regions safer for all road users and have already invested $640 million since 2018 as part of the Safer Roads Program’s Saving Lives on Country Roads Initiative to build critical safety infrastructure, such as wide centre lines and life-saving flexible safety barriers, to help prevent run-off-road and head-on crashes.”

In 2022, there were 25 local government areas across NSW remain fatality free, including six in metropolitan Sydney.

“This is a great result for those communities and demonstrates that a zero-road toll can be achieved,” McCarthy says.

“Last year, in April, we released the 2026 Road Safety Action Plan, which sets out our new target to halve road deaths and reduce serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to the 2018-20 average. Over the next five years, we will spend almost $2.4 billion on road safety initiatives to help NSW progress towards our new targets.

“As we start 2023, I urge everyone to remember that we all have a part to play in bringing down the road toll. Road safety is a shared responsibility, and we need everyone to do their part – drive to the conditions, stick to the speed limit, make sure you’re well rested and never ever drive if you’re affected by drugs or alcohol.”

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