Published: Nov 19, 2020

Major changes to road safety laws

A new law combining drink and drug driving and changes to the mobile speed camera program are part of a major crackdown on offences to save lives on our roads.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said harsher penalties would be thrown at those caught drink and drug driving from next year.

“Research shows you are 23 times more likely to crash if you are under the influence of both alcohol and drugs – this massive, life-threatening risk needs a stronger penalty,” Mr Constance said.

“Across our roads network we have seen this reckless and irresponsible behaviour result in far too many deaths and serious injuries, and these tougher penalties send the message that this behaviour won’t be tolerated.”

Since 2015, 101 serious crashes have involved a driver or rider with illegal levels of both alcohol and drugs in their systems. These crashes killed 98 people and seriously injured another 52.

Mr Constance said changes to the mobile speed camera program, including the removal of warning signs, would roll out over the next 12 months and bring NSW in line with other jurisdictions.

“This is about changing culture and changing behaviour. We’ve seen it happen with our world leading mobile phone detection program, where the rate of people offending has steadily declined. No warnings signs mean you can be caught anywhere, anytime and we want that same culture around mobile speed cameras,” Mr Constance said.

Independent modelling from Monash University Accident Research Centre showed these enhancements to the mobile speed camera program may save between 34 and 43 lives, and prevent around 600 serious injuries in NSW each year.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said that country people make up a third of the NSW population, but last year deaths on country roads made up two-thirds of our road toll, with speeding being the biggest killer.

“To see so many lives lost on country roads, where the impacts are felt across entire communities, is devastating,” Mr Toole said.

“Last year, 136 people in NSW lost their lives and 2,941 were injured because someone was speeding, so the message is clear: remember that every time you get behind the wheel, the choices we make can have fatal consequences.”

Mr Toole said the new measures would not only target the small proportion of motorists who do the wrong thing, but also re-invest fines in life-saving infrastructure on our country roads to ensure every journey is a safer one.

“The money generated from the mobile speed camera program will go directly to road safety initiatives through our Community Road Safety Fund, which has already seen thousands of kilometres of audio-tactile line markings, wide centre lines and more crash barriers rolled out across regional NSW,” Mr Toole said.

“This announcement comes on the back of a record investment in road safety of $648 million, which includes a significant increase in investment through the Safer Roads Program targeting high risk areas with a regional focus.

“The NSW Government is working hard to make NSW roads the safest in the world, but we need everyone to remember that it is their responsibility to drive so others survive.”

National Road Safety Week 2020 runs November 15th to 20th.