2G0 FM—Interview with Dwayne and Sarah

Interview

DCI021/2016

07 December 2016

Subjects: Road black spots and road safety

Dwayne: And this next guest wishes he was in the studio with us. He's the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure on the coast today, it's Darren Chester, wishes he could play the pinball challenge. Good morning Darren.

Darren Chester: Good morning guys. I must confess to a misspent youth on pinball machines so I would have done alright at that challenge.

Sarah: Whoa, okay, well next time if you can pop on by. But we know that you do have a very very busy and important day here on the Central Coast.

Darren Chester: I do have a busy day. I'm with Lucy Wicks the local Member of Parliament and Lucy's taking me around some of the black spots in terms of road issues in the community. We've had a pretty tough year across New South Wales with- we're on track with about 400 deaths across the state. It's one of our worst results in the past decade, so it's been a tough year on our roads and here on the Central Coast Lucy's concerned about some more black spots she wants to show me and whether we can work together with the local council and the State Government to get some improvements.

Dwayne: And with those improvements the Federal Government pay for those Darren?

Darren Chester: Absolutely. The Federal Government has about $500 million for road black spots across the nation and here on the Central Coast Lucy Wicks has been able to secure about $3.5 million in recent times for some important road works. And then there's other work going on obviously on the M1 and the Pacific Highway right along the coast. So it goes from the major regional highways right through to those small local roads which have been notorious for accidents or of course serious injuries. They're the ones that we're trying to target and Lucy Wicks is going to show me a few of those today and see how we can work together on them.

Sarah: And working together means that hopefully we get an outcome for our locals. You've obviously heard about some of the worst ones?

Darren Chester: Well absolutely. I don't want to talk too much on specific accidents but other than to say you've had some horrible events here on the coast this year and we need to work with the local community and work with local council about whether there's some road treatments we can do, some engineering solutions which may help address those situations. At the end of the day it's up to all of us as road users to make sure we slow down, we drive to the conditions, that we're not distracted by our mobile phones, we don't drink and drive, all those things we know so well but we've got to do it every day and we've got our own responsibilities and we have to do that ourselves and work in partnership with council and communities and the police and make sure we do everything we can to stay safe on the roads this summer.

Dwayne: Yeah, and that's a really important message because road safety comes under your umbrella as well Darren?

Darren Chester: Absolutely and we've had a terrible year across Australia. We're on track for 1200 people to die on our roads this year and if we keep going the way we're going over these next 20 days before Christmas there'll be another 70 Australians who won't make it to Christmas dinner and that's a terrible statistic to talk about but that's the way we're heading this year; we're losing too many people on our roads every day. We all think it won't happen to us. We all think, you know, we're bullet proof, we all think we're good drivers, but we have to really slow down and think about our responsibilities and I don't want to lecture people about how they should drive but it's up to us all to take it seriously because the impact when someone is killed or seriously injured flows right through the community, it's not just the person in the car at the time, it's their family, their friends and everyone else right through the community. It ripples right through and that trauma is something that people live with for the rest of their lives.

Dwayne: Yeah slow down. Don't use your mobile phone when you're driving.

Sarah: Once you've decided on the ones that you feel need the treatment first, how long do we have to wait for action?

Darren Chester: Well we need to work as quickly as we can with local government and the community. We go through a process every year where projects are put up for consideration by the black spots committee which is a state based group that works out the priorities in each state. When it comes to me basically [indistinct] getting the money out as quickly as I possibly can. There's money in the budget for these black spots. It's a question of working with the community, working with Lucy Wicks to make sure that the best projects are put up for this community and then getting the money out as quickly as you possibly can.

Sarah: And the money would go to something more than a sign telling us that it's a black spot right?

Darren Chester: Well it'd be more about sort of those engineering treatments to road that may be- you know a lot of accidents occur at intersections or it may be roundabouts or it may be treatments to slow drivers down through an area which you know has been an area of high speed crashes, so there's things you can do to moderate the traffic flow. It might be traffic signals in some areas. It just depends on the treatment that the New South Wales Government and local council decide on is most appropriate for that location. So there's not one treatment that suits every location. The bottom line is we try and work with the local community to get the best possible treatment to save lives and reduce serious injuries in those black spot areas.

Dwayne: Darren thanks for taking time out with us this morning. Mate have a merry Christmas. Enjoy your time on the coast and we look forward to seeing those road upgrades here across the Central Coast.

Sarah: Yeah.

Darren Chester: All the best guys. Safe Travels.

Dwayne: Thanks Darren. That's Darren Chester. He's the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, also does the road safety as well.