With the NSW State election scheduled for this Saturday, both the NSW Government and Opposition have made various election promises over the past month which would impact road safety, including proposed changes to demerit points and traffic fines. Yesterday, the NSW Government announced plans to increase the speed limit in the WestConnex motorway network and tunnels from 80 km/h to 90 km/h, and to expand this speed limit increase further, if re-elected.
The Australasian College of Road Safety is disappointed in election promises and policies that are not designed to increase safety on our roads.
Transport for NSW identifies speeding as the biggest contributor to road trauma on NSW roads. Each year around 150 people die and 1,270 people are seriously injured in NSW from speed related crashes.
“We know that with increased speed comes increased crash risk, which leads to road trauma and deaths. The evidence is there, and it is undeniable,” stated ACRS NSW Chapter Deputy Chair Michael Timms.
The ACRS supports evidence-based measures that can reduce road trauma, and maintains that road safety election promises and subsequent policy should be evidence based, not driven by public opinion. The importance of safe speeds as a critical component of road safety is undermined when voters are seemingly ‘rewarded’ with increased speed limits.
The increased crash risk associated with increased speeds is particularly troubling in the confines of tunnels where evacuations and poorer access for emergency services can significantly compromise the safety of road users. The ACRS believes that the slight reduction in travel time does not justify the increased risk to life.
In the last week before the NSW State Election, and as more promises will continue to be made, ACRS calls on political parties to:
- Publicly commit or re-commit to targets to reduce national and state road trauma
- Outline how their promises will achieve road trauma reduction targets
“We need political parties to base their road and transport election promises on evidence of benefit for road safety, not on public opinion. Last year alone 288 people died on NSW roads. We should not be sacrificing lives for an election promise,” concluded Mr Timms.