The state’s holiday road toll has more than doubled and yearly road deaths have risen for a second consecutive year despite the state government recently announcing hundreds of millions of dollars in road safety initiatives.
The state’s Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, acknowledged that 2017 was the second consecutive year in which the state’s road toll had risen, following a series of drops since 2009.
But the most substantial increase has been in the state’s holiday road toll which had so far more than doubled on Monday despite a $300-million NSW road safety budget announced last financial year.
Emergency services personnel attend a crash scene on the Hume Highway near Oolong where a female driver of a van died on Thursday morning after accidentally clipping a truck. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Three deaths on New Year’s Day, including a crash apparently involving a parked car minutes after New Year’s Eve, and a 75-year-old man from Grafton who died after he rolled his car, means the holiday toll is now projected to reach 28 this year, compared to 12 last year.
An additional 12 people were killed on NSW roads for all of 2017 compared to the previous year, or 392 people in total.
“The recent spikes in the road toll have been incredibly disappointing,” Ms Pavey said. “Speed was the biggest killer with 168 people losing their lives because someone was driving too fast.”
Three members of one family were killed in accidents in NSW on Boxing Day, including in a crash that claimed the lives of two parents and their daughter.
A fourth member of the family, actor Jessica Falkholt, remains in a critical condition following the South Coast crash.
“This Christmas-New Year period is meant to be a time of happiness, to spend time with family. And sadly, for many, this has resulted in tragedy,” Chief Inspector Brooks of the NSW highway patrol said.
The state government devised an ambitious campaign to address the rising road toll with more than $300 million spending in last year’s state budget, including $70 million specifically for road safety measures.
Melinda Pavey, NSW Minister for Roads, said positive reductions were made despite the increase. Photo: Jessica Hromas
Last month NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters her “heart broke” following reports of fatalities, but drivers were ultimately responsible for road safety.
A period of increased police enforcement of road rules, Operation Safe Arrival, from mid-December to Monday night, corresponds with the period known as the holiday road toll.
An accident in Yagoona in Sydney’s south, shortly after midnight, added to this year’s carnage on the roads.
The crash in Sydney’s south-west at 12.15am on New Year’s Day killed one female passenger and left another in a serious condition at Liverpool Hospital.
Police were called following reports a driver had smashed into a parked car. The driver suffered minor injuries and will undertake mandatory tests for drugs and alcohol.
Meanwhile two other New Year’s Day fatalities occurred when a 75-year-old Grafton man died at the scene after rolling his car and a 54-year-old man was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day when he was struck by a car in Newcastle.
But the state government highlighted the success of some of its road safety campaigns. Deaths of drivers not wearing seatbelts fell from 30 to 13, according to police statistics.
The state government said that deaths among pedestrians had fallen in 2017 from 71 to 54 and fatal accidents involving young drivers had also fallen slightly.