Road toll drops but still more work to be done

SAFE TRAVELS: John Pritchard, Les Brown and Ray Sharpe this year helped keep drivers alert over the Christmas period at Driver Reviver on Bathurst Road.  Photo: STEVE GOSCH   1223sgdriver2
SAFE TRAVELS: John Pritchard, Les Brown and Ray Sharpe this year helped keep drivers alert over the Christmas period at Driver Reviver on Bathurst Road. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 1223sgdriver2

ORANGE, Cabonne and Blayney roads have contributed to just 0.78 per cent of the number of people killed and injured in New South Wales during a year where the road toll hit a near-record low.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services this week released official crash statistics for the state in 2010, showing positive results.

The statistics revealed the number of fatal crashes and those killed dropped around 10 per cent compared to 2009.

This is the second lowest road toll since 1944, and second lowest fatality rate per population since 1908.

Although the central west’s crash statistics were among the lowest in the state, more work still needs to be done, according to member for Orange Andrew Gee.

“The most concerning aspect were the figures showing 29 per cent of fatalities were males between 17 and 25,” he said.

“Only seven per cent were female in that age group.

“Clearly that is a very big concern and more work needs to be done to reinforce the road safety message in that age group.”

Mr Gee was also concerned that a large number of fatalities occurred on country roads.

“Country roads had 34 per cent of all crashes but 68 per cent of fatal crashes,” he said.

“I think obviously they have biggest distances to drive, more challenging roads, and faster speeds.

“We have to keep working at making road safety improvements as well.”

Meanwhile, the statistics have reinforced a push for drivers to be more vigilant while on country roads.

A number of fatalities in regional areas last year were caused by motorists not addressing avoidable risks.

Around 11 per cent of all vehicle occupant fatalities were due to not wearing an available seat belt, with 74 per cent of these fatalities occurring on country roads.

Over half of the fatal crashes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were caused by alcohol, and alcohol was a factor in 19 per cent of all fatal crashes.

Fatigue was determined to be a factor in at least 15 per cent of the 365 fatal crashes in 2010.