Road safety focus this Australia Day long weekend

All Australians and their families must be vigilant and conscious of upholding high road safety standards each and every day, and on every journey, not just this Australia Day long weekend.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack is the Federal Minister with responsibility for road safety, which is shared across multiple agencies throughout various tiers of Government in Australia.

Mr McCormack said all road users had a role to play in reducing road deaths and trauma and anyone getting behind the wheel this Australia Day long weekend should ensure safety is front of mind when making driving decisions.

“Just because many Australians and their families are getting away for a well-earned break this Australia Day weekend and will be on the road, it’s no excuse to relax at the wheel and switch off when it comes to road safety,” Mr McCormack said.

“In fact, it’s even more important to do the basics right such as wearing seat-belts, not using mobile phones whilst driving, driving to the conditions, sticking to the speed limit, taking regular driver breaks when travelling long distances to avoid fatigue and never, ever driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Mr McCormack said the Australian Government is investing in multiple initiatives and programs aimed at improving road safety outcomes and standards, such as the $75 billion, 10-year infrastructure plan.

He said a decline occurred last year in nationwide road deaths, with 78 fewer fatalities – but complacency remains road safety’s biggest enemy and drivers must remain vigilant with their Australia Day weekend travel arrangements.

“One road death or road accident is one too many,” Mr McCormack said.

“The Government takes road safety very seriously which is why we’re working closely with other Governments and stakeholders towards a target of zero road deaths and serious injuries in Australia.

“Our infrastructure plan is being rolled-out over the next decade with enhanced road safety outcomes central to numerous projects such as; $10 billion for upgrades on the Bruce Highway; $5.6 billion for the Pacific Highway’s duplication; and $3.5 billion for Roads of Strategic Importance.

“We’ve also initiated the National Road Safety Governance Review which is the positive first step in following through on the 12 recommendations made in the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 Inquiry which handed down its findings last year.

“The Black Spot Program, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and Road Safety Task Force based within the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities also aim to make a difference and improve safety outcomes.

“But above all, all drivers can take self-responsibility at all times to ensure emergency service workers won’t be attending the scene of an accident involving them in future or knocking on the door of their home, with tragic news for their friends and families, this Australia Day weekend.

“If that’s not incentive enough, drivers need to be aware multiple police operations will be targeting driver behaviour this long weekend, including random breath and drug testing and speed enforcement activities at strategic times and locations.

“Driver distraction also has potentially devastating consequences so make sure you pay attention behind the wheel and keep devices such as mobile phones out of hands and harm’s way.”

Mr McCormack said there was always an opportunity to improve on road safety.

“As we work towards “Vision Zero” to reach no fatalities on the road, we also need to think of the 38,000 people, according to the latest figures, who are hospitalised due to road crash injuries each and every year which is a startling statistic and a stark reminder that we need to do better,” he said.

“As we head into the Australia Day long weekend, we need to make we’re mindful of the need for high road safety standards and be aware of other motorists on the roads, to make sure we get ourselves and our families home safely.”