2BS Gold

Interview

DCI034/2017

12 April 2017

Subject: Road safety over the Easter long weekend

Reporter: Good afternoon.

Darren Chester: Good afternoon Sarah.

Reporter: Thank you very much for your time this afternoon. Now, double demerit points, they go into place as of midnight tonight, is that right?

Darren Chester: That's right and really it's a reminder to people that this Easter long weekend is going to be a busy time on the roads and police are just simply saying to everyone, take your time, take your breaks, don't be distracted by mobile phones or anything like that, and arrive safely at your destination. The double demerit points is intended to raise awareness of that fact but I'm of the view you can't enforce your way out of road trauma. We have to all take personal responsibility for our actions behind the wheel—the message that I give to people is it's up to all of us to our bit to reduce road trauma right around Australia and particularly in regional New South Wales.

Reporter: And this year marks the twentieth anniversary of double demerit enforcement in the area which I think has really, I guess, shown a difference for these long weekends being in place. Last Easter, unfortunately, eight people didn't make it home on the roads, the year before 22. So, I think it kind of does get the message out there year-to-year that this is happening, people should be pulling over more because there is more happening on our roads.

Darren Chester: Absolutely Sarah. Look, one of our challenges is that in the last couple of years we've had an increase in road trauma right around Australia, but particularly in our regional areas. Last year in New South Wales was our worst result for five years. It's alarming to think that we had 253 people die on regional roads last year and 131 die on metropolitan roads, and that was a really poor result. This year, the trend is a little bit better, I mean we have seen some improvement this year, but it's really a reminder to us all that we've just all got to take that personal responsibility.

I mean, governments do have to provide the safest roads possible, but we have to act well as drivers when we're behind the wheel. We also need to look at purchasing the safest vehicle we can afford. It's all about safety when it comes to reducing road trauma and, you know, it's a challenge for us all but we need to work together to make sure we're constantly reminding each other about our responsibilities as drivers and other road users.

Reporter: And as well as an increase of police on the roads these Easter holidays, what are some things that drivers should be aware of?

Darren Chester: I think absolutely the first thing to consider is it's going to be busy on the roads and there's no hurry. It's better off to arrive safely than trying to get there at record speed. You might save a couple of minutes but you put yourself at risk and other road users at risk and perhaps your own passengers at risk. So, take the time to arrive safely and take a break. A lot of people will be driving longer distances than they're used to, perhaps, and perhaps even driving after a long day at work. So, every couple of hours you should be pulling over, taking a break, having a stretch, maybe getting a coffee at one of those reviver stops. So, fatigue is a real issue for us in our regional areas.

Absolutely, speed is a consideration. We need to make sure people drive at the right speed for the conditions and that means recognising that there could be some road works on in certain areas, slowing down for those. If the weather changes or deteriorates in some way, slowing down for that, and heavy traffic, not trying to be that guy who ducks in and out of traffic trying to get one or two cars in front. I mean, it's all pretty common sense stuff but we all need to do it and make the road a more enjoyable environment for everyone.

Reporter: That's right. Well, a very important message there for everybody to stay safe on our roads. Darren, thank you very much for your time this afternoon. You have a nice Easter break.

Darren Chester: All the best to you too, Sarah. Have a great Easter and everyone stay safe on the roads.

Reporter: Thanks very much. Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester online with us there with a very strong message of staying safe on the road.