The NSW road toll isn’t simply a number. It is people. Sadly, it’s closer to home than you think. It’s people like you. Grandparents, mothers, fathers, children. And it’s a number that’s unacceptable, no matter how small it gets, until it gets to zero.

That should be the aim for all of us – government, law enforcement, business, communities, families, and individuals – we should work together to do everything in our power to push the number of deaths on New South Wales roads towards zero.

Our Safe Systems Approach

Towards Zero Together

Just as we no longer accept that it is inevitable that some people will die in the workplace, we cannot simply accept that some people will die or be seriously injured on NSW roads.

To achieve the ultimate goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on NSW roads, we’ve adopted a safe systems approach. This approach is underpinned by these principles:

  • People are human and sometimes make mistakes - a simple mistake shouldn’t cost anyone their life.
  • Road users have a limited tolerance to physical force - roads, roadsides and vehicles need to be designed to minimise crashes or reduce forces if a crash happens.
  • Road safety is a shared responsibility – everyone needs to make safe decisions on and around the road and those responsible for delivering road safety programs and infrastructure need to prioritise safety.

Initiatives to ensure safer roads, speeds, people and vehicles need to be implemented together so the road system not only keeps us moving, but safe and protected.

The four elements of a safe system are:

icon Safer people

Road users are educated, informed and motivated to make safer decisions on and around the road.

icon Safer roads

Road and roadsides are designed and upgraded to reduce the chances of crashes occurring and minimise the consequences if a crash occurs.

icon Safer vehicles

Vehicles with improved safety features that help reduce the risk of a crash or absorb or compensate for forces if a crash occurs.

icon Safer speeds

Speed is managed through appropriate and consistent speed zoning that reflect the crash risk at specific locations.

Towards Zero Campaign

 Safer People

People are at the heart of the safe systems approach to road safety.

People are at the heart of the safe systems approach to road safety. All road users owe it to themselves and to everyone else on the road to follow the road rules and drive to the conditions. Crashes can be prevented, and lives can be saved, by making safe choices.

No matter how skilled or experienced you are, or how familiar you are with a road, it’s hard to know what’s around the corner or to anticipate if another road user will make a mistake.

If you’re tired, distracted, speeding or impaired by alcohol or drugs, you cannot react as quickly to unexpected changes on the road. In the event of a crash, your choice of speed or decision to wear a seatbelt can make the difference between life and death for yourself, your family or friends – as well as others involved.

Education combined with enforcement and penalties, including fines, demerit points and licence suspension all aim to motivate road users to follow the rules and behave safely on and around the road.

 SAFER ROADS

Safer roads are designed and built to be more forgiving and account for human error.

Responsibility for a serious crash can’t just rest on the shoulders of a road user. Safer roads are designed and built to be more forgiving and account for human error and vulnerability. If a driver or rider makes a mistake, the road infrastructure can significantly reduce the chance that it will result in death or serious injury.

To do this we:

  • Upgrade roads and improve road design, install new road signs, surfaces, markings and safety barriers, and remove roadside hazards.
  • Assess long stretches of major roads in route safety reviews to identify road improvements and couple with enforcement and education programs.
  • Separate road users as much as possible by both time and space.

 SAFER vehicles

Safety features can either help prevent a crash or help absorb and reduce the forces of impact.

Well-designed vehicles with advanced safety features can not only prevent a crash, but also help absorb and reduce the forces of impact on occupants and other road users if a crash occurs. When crash forces are reduced, there is less risk of death or serious injury.

When it comes to safety, not all cars are equal. Some safety features like front airbags come standard in most new vehicles, but other technologies don't. Important safety features to look out for include:

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Side Curtain Airbags
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking

You can review and compare vehicle safety ratings and find out more about these vehicle technologies before you buy by visiting HowSafeIsYourCar.com.au.

Whether you are buying a new or used car, buy the safest car you can afford. This could save yours and your passengers’ lives.

 SAFER speeds

A small increase in speed can make a big difference to the seriousness of a crash.

In a crash, the human body can only tolerate a certain level of physical force before death or serious injury is inevitable.

This is especially true for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, motorcyclists and riders, children and older people. That’s why setting safe speed limits, as well as ensuring drivers comply with these, is critical.

Speed limits are set so vehicles travelling at the speed limit are able to safely respond to potential risks in the road environment. Lower speed limits for example, are used in more built up areas where there are more people and vehicles around, to reduce the chance of crashes and people being seriously injured.

Speeding

Speeding includes travelling above the speed limit as well as driving too fast for certain conditions. As well as being identified as a contributing factor in around 40 per cent of fatal crashes each year in NSW, speed can worsen the severity of all crashes.

The higher the speed, the greater the impact so a small increase in speed can make a big difference to the seriousness of a crash. As a vehicle's speed increases, so does the distance travelled in the time it takes a driver to react to a hazard and for the vehicle to come to a stop. On an urban road, driving only 5km above the 60km/h speed limit doubles the risk of a casualty crash.

High speeds are also associated extremely high risks of losing control of the vehicle on corners, curves or if evasive action is needed.

Our Mistakes campaign aims to reframe the way people look at their speed when they’re driving, by encouraging drivers to slow down because it’s difficult to know what’s up ahead. Many drivers think it’s OK to speed sometimes because they’re an experienced driver and they feel in control. But this ignores factors outside of our control when driving. When someone makes a mistake on the road, even ‘just a bit over’ the speed limit can be the difference between being able to stop in time or not at all, where death or serious injury becomes inevitable.

While safer roads and improvements to vehicle design aims to minimise the consequences if a crash occurs, ultimately it’s a driver’s speed that will determine the outcome.