News State NSW News Driving down the death toll: NSW government’s road safety crackdown

Driving down the death toll: NSW government’s road safety crackdown

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Five people were killed in truck-related crashes within 48 hours last month. Photo: ABC News
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Speeding, drink and drug-driving, and mobile phone use will be targeted under a government crackdown after almost 400 deaths on NSW roads last year.

Cameras will catch drivers on their phones and police will begin issuing on-the-spot fines and licence suspensions for low-range drink-driving.

Motorists with a mid-range drink-driving conviction will be forced to have a breathalyser fitted into their car, which won’t start unless a negative reading is given.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said the package was “radical”, while Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was up to the community.

“The strictest road rules in the world don’t take away from personal responsibility,” Ms Berejiklian said, announcing the package on Tuesday.

She added that “one second of distraction, one second of doing the wrong thing” could cost someone their life.

Heavy vehicle average-speed cameras, which test a truck’s speed over an extended distance, will also be added to 11 new locations.

The state government aims to take the number of road deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2056. One person is killed or seriously injured in crashes in the state every 41 minutes.

The reforms come after 392 deaths on NSW roads last year. Last month, five people were killed in truck-related crashes in 48 hours.

“All of us have been touched by the heartbreak of the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads,” Ms Berejiklian said. “We’ve witnessed heartache for families all too frequently in the last two months.”

Country road upgrades will cost the government $125 million, with 1600km of rumble strips rolled out to stop drivers drifting to the wrong side of the road.

Ms Pavey said country NSW accounted for almost 70 per cent of the state’s road toll last year.

“[It] is one-third of the population, yet two-thirds of the road toll,” the roads minister said on Tuesday.

“Having respect of our community is important. We believe we’ve got the balance right. The worst thing we can do is turn country people off the conversation we’re having.”

Another $11 million will go towards pedestrian and cyclist refuges and crossings.

Cycling advocacy group the Bicycle Network welcomed the announcement, but said it needed to be accompanied by further investments and commitment from all levels of government.

A review into driving on prescription drugs has also been requested for April.

The package is in addition to the number of roadside drug tests doubling to 200,000 every year, and being expanded to include cocaine tests.

Last week, police began raiding trucks on NSW roads in an effort to stop “cowboy” drivers and “ratbag” operators.

Every truck and heavy vehicle travelling in, through and out of NSW was checked in the operation, in conjunction with officers from Victoria, Queensland, the ACT and South Australia.

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