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Lowest ever regional road deaths, but still far too many

By January 7, 2019News

Regional Victoria has recorded its lowest number of road deaths since records began, though drivers are being warned to remain vigilant on rural roads into the New Year period.

Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC Jaala Pulford last week joined representatives from the Transport Accident Commission and Regional Roads to reflect on road trauma in regional Victoria in 2018. Data released by the Transport Accident Commission today shows that 109 people lost their lives on Victoria’s regional roads in 2018, 47 fewer than in 2017 and 29 less than the previous record low of 138 in 2008.

Despite this, people are still far more likely to die on country roads, a move that has seen the Andrews Labor Government continue to invest in life-saving road safety infrastructure like flexible safety barriers.

“Any reduction in the number of people dying on our roads is always welcome but the sad fact remains that there are far too many rural families starting the New Year without a loved one,” Ms Pulford said.

With around 1500 kilometres of barriers rolled out, thousands of barrier hits recorded across the state, and a steep reduction in deaths on high-speed regional roads in 2018, this infrastructure is reducing the severity of crashes and saving lives.

Deaths on high-speed regional roads dropped significantly last year, with 67 people losing their lives on 100km/h roads compared with 119 in 2017.

“These stats show that our unprecedented investment into road safety infrastructure is heading in the right direction, but there is still a long way for us to go in reaching zero lives lost and serious injuries on our roads,” TAC Chief Executive Officer Joe Calafiore said.

“We’re rolling out flexible safety barriers on our highest risk roads because they are proven to save lives and we’ll be continuing our massive program of work to improve the safety of regional roads this year – because one life lost is one too many,” Acting Chief Regional Roads Officer Brian Westly said.

The number of single-vehicle and head-on crashes have also dropped across the state, but they remain the leading causes of fatal crashes in regional Victoria.

Head-on crashes resulted in 21 deaths and 53 people died in a single-vehicle crash on the roadside, down from 37 head-on crashes and 72 single-vehicle crashes in 2017.

Young driver deaths (aged 18 to 25) reduced dramatically in 2018, with 14 deaths compared with 31 in 2017.

In 2018, Victoria also introduced the toughest penalties for drink and drug driving in Australia, and introduced tough new sanctions for high-level speeding, as part of sweeping changes to make the state’s roads safer.

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