Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Easter Road Toll The Australian 18 April 2006

 John Stapleton
WHILE the national road toll of 21 for the Easter holidays was five less than last year, in NSW the figures almost doubled, sparking a political furore.
NSW was the worst performing state, with nine dead. Queensland saw four dead, with three of the state's deaths involving pedestrians aged over 70. Victoria recorded three dead, South Australia and Western Australia two each and the Northern Territory one.
The ACT and Tasmania were fatality-free.
The national toll hit 21 late on Monday night after an horrendous smash in central NSW left a Queensland man and his son dead. The head-on collision on the Newall Highway near Gilgandra also left the man's wife and another boy in the car seriously injured, along with five members of a family from Orange who were in the other car. Two of the occupants were children with serious head, leg and chest injuries.
Yesterday the NSW government announced a review of driver safety programs after the Newall Highway accident took to the state's death toll to nine, almost double the five deaths for the previous year. Both Premier Morris Iemma and Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal expressed sadness at the toll.
``There isn't a safe level of speeding,'' Mr Iemma said. ``Speed kills.''
NSW Traffic Services Commander John Hartley said 11,299 had been detected speeding over the Easter weekend, a significant increase on previous years. He said he would press for the introduction of speed limiters on all cars when he meets his state counterparts at the Australasian Traffic Policing Forum in Canberra this week. A device reduces the revs of the motor once the speedo hits a designated speed, preventing it going over the limit. Supt Hartley said he believed a top speed of 120kph was a ``reasonable limit'' for cars, but it would take years to introduce.
Roads Minister Mr Roozendal said he would be requesting the Roads and Traffic Authority to work with the NSW police on strategies to further combat speed and fatigue. He said 36 per cent of fatal accidents were caused by one or both factors.
He also expressed concern that despite millions of dollars going into road safety campaigns clearly not everyone was heeding the message.
NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam said the escalating road toll was no surprise to highway patrol police starved of resources. ``Cutbacks in highway patrol is one factor contributing to NSW's high road toll this year,'' he said. ``There is no better deterrent to speeding drivers than seeing a marked highway patrol car.'' He said 182 people had died on NSW roads so far this year, up 27 per cent on the same time last year.

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