August is Rural Road Safety Month.
Rural road crashes account for more than 65 per cent of the Australian road toll and the rate of serious road-related injury among residents of rural areas is nearly twice that of those in major cities.
The CWA of NSW has a strong interest in rural road safety.
In 1970 the CWA called for more funding for local councils to fix and maintain the 'deplorable' condition of country roads.
To this day we are seeking more funding for regional NSW roads, from road funding agreements for major roads and highways, to sealing of regional roads to upgrading, restoring or maintaining roads within a local government area.
The CWA of NSW has a long history of lobbying for, encouraging and participating in awareness campaigns for rural road safety, improving signage and even road rules such as reducing the blood alcohol content to .05 per cent in the 1980s.
In recent years we've partnered with the NSW government agency Transport for NSW, which launched the Saving Country Lives on Country Roads campaign.
A centrepiece of this campaign is de-bunking the myth locals are safer on the road than 'city people' or 'tourists', and that crashes won't happen to them.
The reality is that more than 70pc of fatal crashes on country roads involve country residents.
Transport for NSW found there is also a tendency for complacency and a lower perception of risk when driving on familiar roads.
The CWA of NSW is also currently working with Transport for NSW on a number of safer roads initiatives, including safety around horse traffic, and use of truck stops.
Too many lives are lost on country roads.
This Rural Road Safety Month, the Australian Road Safety Foundation is calling on rural people to make the pledge to #Choose Road Safety.
The pledge involves committing to always being fit to drive, scanning the road ahead, knowing your limits and planning the trip, staying sharp and taking regular breaks, not driving through flood waters, being alert for wildlife and livestock and driving to suit the conditions.
People can learn how to change in-car behaviour and help promote awareness of rural road safety by going to arsf.com.au.
The CWA of NSW continues to call upon our elected leaders for support in reducing the road toll.
Progress has been made, but road upgrades and maintenance in rural, regional and remote areas are still desperately needed.
- Stephanie Stanhope is president of CWA of NSW.
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