September is Rural Road Safety Month, an Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) awareness campaign designed to highlight the additional risks that exist when driving on rural and remote roads.
Despite fewer than a third of Australia’s population residing in major cities, deaths on rural roads accounted for almost two thirds of the 2022 road toll. In the first eight months of 2023, we have lost 38 lives on South Australian rural roads, ten more than at the same time last year.
The overrepresentation of rural and regional road users in the national fatality and serious injury statistics and the continuing rising road toll is quite obviously cause for real concern.
It’s also a key reason why the Federal Government must urgently unlock infrastructure investment and get on with upgrading our regional road network, including the Sturt, Dukes, Mallee, Karoonda, Thiele, Ngarkat, Southern Ports, Horricks, Riddoch and Princes Highways.
I will keep fighting to force the Federal Labor Government to upgrade our rural road network, but in the meantime, I ask all road users to assess their own driving behaviour.
Recently released data shows that 51% of Australian drivers openly admit to breaking road rules when travelling on rural roads and 10% have experience terrifying moments of microsleep, where they were awake but unable to recall driving. These are concerning stats on top of existing risks such as poor road condition, reduced lighting and wildlife.
I urge all road users to take stock of the risks and what we can do to reduce them.
Be the change you want to see and help make our roads safer.
Tony Pasin MP
Federal Member for Barker
Shadow Assistant Minister Infrastructure and Transport