I wish to remind some of your readers of co-operation we need to put within our police force in an endeavour to prevent the terrible accidents on our highway, as illustrated in several of our newspapers recently. They include comments from the State Minister and Blacktown Local Area Command Chief Inspector, Bob Fitzgerald.
Some of the measures that they intend to take to reduce the road toll include the number of roadside drugs tests will double, the Highway Patrol is facing a massive shake-up, country speed limits could be cut and police are demanding kerbside cocaine tests after the state’s annual road toll soared to 393, its highest in seven years.
With families torn apart, police officers traumatised by repeatedly having to clean up horrific crash scenes and the cost to the community soaring, Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner Mick Fuller, have put a suite of road safety measures on the table, including slashing 20 km/h off the legal limit in some parts of the bush.
The decision to act was galvanised by a horror Christmas holiday period in which 29 people died between December 15 and January 2, almost double the figure for the same period a year earlier.
One of the greatest problems has been the rise of driving under the influence of drugs, with the deaths caused now exceeding drink-driving. Latest statistics show that between 2012 and 2016, drink-driving accounted for 16 per cent of fatal crashes, while drug-driving caused 18 per cent.
They also reveal that more than two-thirds of road deaths happened in the country, where only a third of the population live, a statistic that has prompted police to discuss reducing speed limits in rural areas, particularly on dirt roads.
Highway Patrol resources were pulled out of Sydney and reassigned to country areas over Christmas and New Year after police identified remote roads as crash hot spots. Yet the majority of the fatalities were single-vehicle crashes on country roads.
Last year’s toll of 393 was nine more than 2016 and the third consecutive annual increase. While speeding remains the leading cause of road deaths, Centre for Road Safety figures reveal the significant threat posed by drug-driving.
Mr Corboy issued a directive to officers around the state on Friday to increase random drug testing, coinciding with a new goal to double the annual number of drug tests from 100,000 to 200,000.
Maybe we, as readers of your paper, can help by distributing some of this information to family members. When this news ends up in my home, my wife Lorraine pins it up in the kitchen for all to read. Maybe you can do this.
Warren Woodley OAM,