A confronting series of videos urging country drivers to take more care will hit the television screens before christmas in a bid to stem the rise in country road fatalities.
As of November this year, of the 351 fatalities on NSW roads in 2017, 47 were people aged 30 - 39, 52 were aged between 40 - 49 and 48 were aged between 60 - 69. Of these fatalities nearly two-thirds occurred on country roads, and many of the deaths were local people.
Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said the Save Country Lives campaign will roll out in the lead up to the busy Christmas Holiday period and would encourage country people to stop making excuses for risky behaviour on their local roads.
“Last year we lost 252 people on country roads. That’s one third of our population making up two thirds of our road toll,” Mrs Pavey said.
“We know that deaths in the country that involve someone driving too fast, having too much to drink, falling asleep behind the wheel or not wearing a seatbelt are way above the rest of the state.”
There has been a marked increase in deaths in south-west NSW roads, forcing the Roads ministry to help establish a strike force with police to help stem the trend.
Meanwhile, Mrs Pavey announced a new round of country road funding.
Sixty-seven projects across regional NSW have been approved for funding in the third round of the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program.
The projects include upgrades to roads, bridges and truck washes and bring the NSW Government’s current spending under the Fixing Country Roads program to almost $247 million. The latest round of funding is the NSW Government’s biggest announcement under the program to date and is part of a $500 million commitment to regional communities under the Restart NSW program.
Among the projects: almost 1500km of Lockhart Shire roads will be upgraded to provide access to heavy vehicle operators, as part of the NSW Government Fixing Country Roads Programs.
Wagga MP Daryl Maguire said Lockhart Shire Council and Wagga Wagga City Council would collectively receive almost $2 million for road projects.
“HML vehicles can’t access the Lockhart Shire due to substandard road structures such as bridges and major culverts, with some failing to support Grain Harvest Management Scheme and Livestock Loading Scheme vehicles,” Mr Maguire said.
“The investment will see nine bridges upgraded in Lockhart Shire, reducing operating costs for heavy vehicle operators and the number of heavy vehicles on the road and improving productivity by allowing the use of larger vehicles.”
Wagga Wagga City Council received $868,168 by the NSW Government, alongside the council’s almost $300,000 contribution, to reconstruct 2.1kms of Byrnes Road from Bavin Road to East Bomen Road.