On Thursday, 22 February, a significant gathering will unite road safety professionals from Australia and abroad, including advocates, scholars, and representatives from both federal and state levels, focusing on the enhancement of road safety and the reduction of fatalities. This NSW Government road safety forum signifies an unprecedented effort within the state to bring together leading figures from both domestic and international spheres to address road fatalities, drawing on insights from Scandinavian nations that have seen notable success in reducing road fatalities over two decades.

Hosted in Sydney by the government, the forum is a proactive step towards addressing the uptick in road tolls observed across Australian regions following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, with a special emphasis on mitigating fatalities on regional roads. Despite only a third of NSW’s population residing in regional areas, these areas see two-thirds of the state’s road deaths, including those in regional urban centers.

Carol Brown, the Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, will add a national viewpoint to the discussions, with NSW aiming to bolster interstate and territorial cooperation to confront this widespread challenge. Transport for NSW, the hosting body, is extending its invitation to state opposition and crossbench members, underlining a collective approach to combating road fatalities.

The Minns Labor government has introduced innovative safety measures, such as the deployment of mobile phone detection cameras, soon to enforce seatbelt usage. Additionally, the government’s demerit point scheme illustrates a balanced approach to road safety, offering over 1.3 million NSW drivers the chance to have a demerit point removed from their license following a year of violation-free driving, as the trial period concludes on 17 January.

John Graham, the Minister for Roads, emphasizes the government’s dedication to enhancing road safety and ensuring the safe return of all individuals to their homes. He notes the global increase in road tolls post-COVID and sees the forum as a platform to exchange successful strategies and identify expedited actions from the Road Safety Plan. With 351 lives lost on NSW roads in 2023, Graham calls for a collective commitment to safe driving in 2024, highlighting the need for a unified effort from government bodies, communities, and individuals.

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Jenny Aitchison, the Minister for Regional Roads, points out the disproportionate number of fatalities on regional roads, where despite hosting only a third of the population, these areas account for 70% of road deaths. She stresses the importance of community engagement, especially in regional settings where the impact of each death is profoundly felt. Aitchison hopes the forum will encourage regional leaders to contribute their insights and collaborate with the government on road safety solutions, including discussions on enhancing road safety enforcement and combating risky road user behaviors.

Carol Brown, echoing the sentiment of shared responsibility, looks forward to the outcomes of the forum and their influence on the forthcoming National Road Safety Conference. This conference seeks to unite road safety and police ministers from across the nation to tackle the concerning trends observed on roads, reinforcing the collective duty towards road safety.


Significant investment surge for Queensland traffic safety initiatives

The Queensland Government has declared an investment of $500 million towards enhancing safety on roads, footpaths, and cycle paths within both urban and regional areas. This initiative is part of the Federal Government’s Road Safety Program, which contributes $255.7 million towards these improvements. The Queensland Government is providing matching funds, totaling the investment to $511.5 million.

Launched in October 2020, the Road Safety Program aims to mitigate the economic and societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through funding road safety initiatives across Australia, aligning with the Federal Government’s commitment to road safety.

A total of 71 safety enhancement projects on state-managed roads throughout Queensland will benefit from this funding. Out of the total $511.5 million, $434.2 million is allocated specifically for projects in rural and regional areas.

The projects encompass a range of safety enhancements, including upgrades to intersections, road widening, new line markings, improvements to rest areas, the establishment of heavy vehicle inspection sites, and enhancements for pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Queensland’s Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Bart Mellish, highlighted that this funding is crucial for addressing safety concerns in regions with high risks. Mellish stated, “With this collaborative funding effort, we’re set to roll out an additional 71 projects across Queensland, which will not only support an average of 700 jobs but also significantly enhance road safety for families, businesses, and the broader community. These initiatives are aimed at improving safety and driving economic growth throughout the state.”

Mellish also reflected on the sobering statistics of road fatalities, noting that “Last year, Queensland witnessed the tragic loss of 277 lives on its roads, marking the third-highest figure in a decade. The Queensland government remains steadfast in its commitment to reduce the fatalities on our roads.”

All scheduled safety works under this program are to be completed by 30 June 2025.


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