Premier Gladys Berejiklian announces tough new road safety measures

Family and friends farewell Lars, Vivian and Annabelle Falkholt, who were killed in a car accident on Boxing Day. Picture: Jeremy Piper, AAP
Family and friends farewell Lars, Vivian and Annabelle Falkholt, who were killed in a car accident on Boxing Day. Picture: Jeremy Piper, AAP

Mid-range drink drivers will be required to have a breath-test interlock fitted to their cars as part of changes announced by the state government to reduce the road toll.

The driver will have to provide a negative sample for the vehicle to start.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian released the government’s Road Safety Plan, which stems from 392 people losing their lives on NSW roads in 2017.

The government was under pressure to act following the Boxing Day crash on the South Coast, which claimed the lives of four members of the Falkholt family and the driver of the other car.

Ms Berejiklian said the package addressed speeding, drink driving, drug driving, driver distraction, driver fatigue, truck safety and funding to improve safety on country roads.

The measures include:

  • Expanding the mandatory alcohol interlock program to include all mid-range drink driving offenders. An interlock is a breath testing device fitted to a car’s ignition system. The driver must provide a negative sample for the vehicle to start;
  • Police will be given the power to issue on the spot fines and licence suspensions for low range drink driving. This ensures swift and certain penalties;
  • Amending legislation to allow camera technology to be used to enforce mobile phone offences;
  • 11 additional heavy vehicle average speed camera locations, including in metropolitan Sydney, to address risks associated with greater truck movements;
  • An initial $125 million for a new Saving Lives on Country Roads program including safety barriers, tactile line markings, wide centre line, safety upgrades of high risk curves and $11 million for pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements including traffic calming measures, pedestrian refuges and crossings to keep cyclists and walkers safe.

The Road Safety Plan also includes a review into driving on prescription drugs and a report to be sought from the NSW Sentencing Council on the sentencing of repeat traffic offenders.

Ms Berejiklian said the measures were in addition to last month’s crack down on drug drivers, which saw cocaine added to the list of drugs subject to roadside testing, and the number of roadside drugs tests doubled from 100,000 a year to 200,000 a year by 2020.

“Every 41 minutes in NSW someone is either killed or seriously injured on our roads, leaving families and friends with the heartache,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“As a Government we know we can do more and that is why this Plan makes it clear if you break the law you will be caught and will pay the price.

“We also want to ensure that our public education campaigns are targeted in the right way.”

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said one of the biggest challenges remains on country roads, which accounted for almost 70 per cent of the State’s road toll last year.

“If you live in the country you are four times more likely to die in a road crash than if you live in metro NSW,” Ms Pavey said.

“This is why we will roll out 1600 kilometres of rumble strips and 300 kilometres in targeted safety works, such as flexible, wire-rope barriers to help prevent run-off-road and head-on crashes on our road network, including the Princes Highway.”

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