Road safety forum to assemble top experts on road toll

International and Australian road safety experts, advocates for motorists and road traffic victims, academics, as well as federal and state stakeholders will be brought together on Thursday 22 February to focus on safer roads and saving lives.

The NSW Government road safety forum will be the first time in the state’s history that experts from interstate and around the world will be brought together to tackle the issue of deaths on our roads. It will take advice from Scandinavian countries that have succeeded in reducing road fatalities over the last 20 years.

The government is hosting the forum in Sydney to lead the conversation on how to address the road toll, which has risen across Australian jurisdictions as traffic volumes have rebounded following COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

There will be a particular focus on preventing regional road fatalities. A third of the NSW population resides in regional areas, but two thirds of the state’s road fatalities take place in our regions, including urban centres in regional areas.

Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Carol Brown will provide a federal perspective, with NSW keen to increase cooperation between the states and territories on this shared challenge on our roads.

The NSW Government is inviting the state opposition and members of the crossbench to be part of the forum, to be hosted by Transport for NSW.

The Minns Labor government has been active in introducing new road safety measures, including the use of mobile phone detection cameras that will this year begin enforcing the use of seatbelts.

The government has also pioneered the carrot-and-stick approach through the demerit point scheme. More than 1.3 million NSW drivers remain eligible to have a demerit point removed from their licence when the first 12 months of the trial ends on 17 January if they maintain a spotless record for a year.

Senator Carol Brown, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport said:

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility – from local, state and territory governments as well as the Australian Government and individual road users.

“I look forward to the discussions had at the forum and how the outcomes can be carried through to the National Road Safety Conference shortly after. 

“The National Road Safety Conference has been convened to bring together road safety ministers and police ministers from across the country to engage on the worrying trends we are seeing on our roads.”

NSW Roads Minister John Graham said:  

“The Minns Labor government is focused on improving road safety and making sure everyone gets home to their loved ones every time.

“The road toll has increased across Australia and many parts of the world after Covid. This forum is an opportunity to hear from experts who have had some success in reducing the road toll and identify new measures and actions from the Road Safety Plan that could be accelerated.

“In 2023, NSW experienced the tragic loss of 351 lives on our roads. The NSW Government is issuing a resounding call for every individual to make safe driving a resolution in 2024.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility that requires the collective efforts of government agencies, communities, and individuals. The forum will provide a platform to discuss new actions to save lives. 

NSW Regional Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison said:

“While one third of our population lives in regional NSW, over two thirds of fatalities (70%) occur on regional roads.

“I have been out in the far north-west of regional, rural and remote NSW this week hearing directly from those communities about the road toll.

“Any death on a road is one too many but for regional communities where everyone knows everyone, it hits particularly hard.

“We all need to take responsibility for our actions when it comes to road safety. We need community involvement, particularly in the regions, if the government’s road safety initiatives are to succeed.  

“I hope regional leaders will participate in the forum to share their experiences and work with the government to find solutions to road safety issues.

“The forum will include discussion of how we can strengthen road safety enforcement and tackle unsafe road user behaviour.”