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Yesterday’s road safety announcement from the NSW Government is a welcomed move to target and improve safety after a horrific 2017 road toll.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday released the NSW Government’s Road Safety Plan, which includes a range of measures aimed at reducing the road toll after 392 people lost their lives on NSW roads in 2017.

Ms Berejiklian said the Road Safety Plan is a concerted effort to save lives by making sure roads and vehicles are as safe as possible.

“Every 41 minutes in NSW someone is either killed or seriously injured on our roads, leaving families and friends with the heartache,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“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 with Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey at the announcement yesterday.

The key measures announced by the NSW Government 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.

These measures are in addition to last month’s crack down on drug drivers, which saw cocaine added to the list of drugs subject to roadside testing, and the number of roadside drugs tests doubled from 100,000 a year to 200,000 a year by 2020.

The Road Safety Plan will bring the Government’s total commitment to targeted road safety programs from the Community Road Safety Fund to $1.4 billion over five years.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said 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,” Ms Pavey said.

“This is why we will roll out 1600 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 Road Safety Plan includes a number of key initiatives for immediate implementation as well as a number of other key measures that will be subject to review and consultation.

A review into driving on prescription drugs has been requested by April and the NSW Sentencing Council will be tasked with reporting back on sentencing of repeat traffic offenders who may pose an ongoing risk to the community.

The initiatives announced yesterday are in addition to ongoing programs, including the NSW government’s Safer Roads infrastructure program, safety around schools and mandatory road safety education for every child in NSW.