Saving Lives on Country Roads
Locals are dying on our roads. Our mates. Our families. Us.
While country residents make up only one-third of the NSW population, two-thirds of all fatalities occur on country roads.
Last year, 252 lives were lost on country roads in NSW. If you live in the country, you are four times more likely to die in a road crash than if you live in a metropolitan area. This is unacceptable.
There is a strong belief that locals are safer on the road than ‘city people’ or ‘tourists’, and that road crashes won’t happen to them. The fact is that over 70 per cent of drivers and riders involved in fatal crashes on country roads are country residents.
The group most at risk? It’s not who you’d expect. Older men. Men aged 30-59 years account for the majority of road fatalities in country areas. Despite this fact, this group are still likely to justify risky decisions when they get in the car.
How often have you or a loved one said, ‘Yeah… BUT I’m almost home, ‘Yeah… BUT I’m only a few km’s over’ or ‘Yeah BUT, I know these roads.’
It is time we all realised the road is no place for excuses. Acknowledging this and making safer choices on the road will help local communities to drive our road toll Towards Zero.
While there are a number of unique factors contributing to higher risk on country roads, including higher speeds, roadside hazards such as trees and embankments, longer travel distances and older vehicles, research shows that driver behaviour is still the most significant factor in crashes.
Speeding, driver fatigue, drink driving and not wearing a seatbelt are more likely to contribute to country fatalities and serious injuries. This indicates there are higher levels of risk taking behaviours amongst country drivers and riders.
Despite the fact that the majority of fatalities on country roads are local residents, Transport for NSW research found that country drivers often resist the notion that the way they drive puts themselves or others at risk. There is also a tendency for complacency, over confidence and lower perception of risk when driving on familiar roads.
This latest NSW Government initiative will challenge these perceptions and change driver behaviour by:
• Helping drivers acknowledge their everyday ‘Yeah…BUT’ excuses used to justify risky behaviours have no place on the road.
• Showing we all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and our communities safe on the road.
Ultimately, no risk on the road is acceptable and can result in serious life-changing consequences.