New campaign to save lives on Upper Hunter roads

THE first ever comprehensive road safety education campaign will target regional NSW, including the Upper Hunter.

The operation is an all-out effort to spread the critical message that too many country people are dying on the state’s roads.

Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said Saving Lives On Country Roads aimed to highlight the hidden crisis unfolding almost daily on NSW’s regional road network, a crisis which is devastating families and local communities.

The campaign is also designed to kick start a new conversation in the country by challenging the “yeah but!” attitude of excuses many drivers make to justify taking deadly risks on our roads like speeding, drink and drug driving, driving tired and not wearing seatbelts.

“We need to face up to the fact that far too many country people are dying on our roads,” Mr Johnsen said. 

“Last year we lost 252 people in the country. 

“That’s two thirds of the road toll for the entire state.

“Here in our Upper Hunter 61 people have lost their lives and 533 were seriously injured in the past five years from 2012 to 2016. 

“This has to stop.”

Mr Johnsen said it was also time for the excuses to cease.

“It’s not good enough for drivers to say things like ‘Yeah, but I was only going a few kilometres over the limit’ or ‘Yeah, but I didn’t think I needed to take a break because I was so close to home’ or ‘Yeah, I’d had a few drinks but I needed to get the kids home’. ”

As part of the campaign, which Mr Johnsen launched on Tuesday in the Upper Hunter, the NSW Government and Transport for NSW, will partner with local councils, community groups and local industries to help spread this important safety message across regional NSW.

Campaign ambassador and NSW farmer Sam Bailey said people in local communities needed to start talking about the problem.

“I became a quadriplegic as a result of taking a risk and not wearing a seatbelt. I was thrown from a moving vehicle and my life has never been the same,” Mr Bailey said.

“Recently I lost a dear friend in a road crash on a country road – this tragedy is real and it is happening to our families and friends.

“I never thought I would end up a victim of a road crash, and I never imagined one of my friends would be killed on the road, but I am living proof that tragedy is real and it can happen to you, even if you think you are indestructible.”

The new $3.4 million dollar campaign is part of the NSW Government’s vision of a future free of road trauma and the ultimate goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads. 

“A campaign like this is so important to get the message across to country drivers, our local neighbours and friends, that it’s not tourists or people from the city dying or being injured on our roads, it is our own locals,” Mr Johnsen said.