Ignoring road safety is un-Australian
EVERY time we get behind the wheel of a car, road safety should be everyone's number one concern, every day; not just on Australia Day.
When it comes to keeping our roads safe we all share responsibility which is why the Australian Government is driving ahead with important policy reforms and changes.
As the Federal Minister with responsibility for road safety, this is a constant priority.
Since record keeping commenced in 1925, there have been more than 190,000 deaths on Australia's roads.
Despite considerable population growth and a three-fold increase in registered motor vehicles, the number of road deaths per year has fallen from 3,798 deaths in 1970 to 1,226 in 2017.
In 2018, the number of nationwide road deaths saw 78 fewer fatalities with 1,146 deaths recorded for the 12-month period ended December 2018.
This represents a 6.4 per cent drop from the previous 12-month period which saw 1,224 road deaths recorded - the lowest 12-month total since August 2014.
While these are numbers which indicate we are making progress, the drop in road deaths from one year to the next or over time should not be seen as a green light to trigger complacency.
The Australian Government is working with State and Territory governments towards the "Vision Zero" goal to have no fatalities on our roads.
One road death or road accident is one too many and we need to make sure every dollar spent on road safety works to achieve maximum return which is what this Government is striving to deliver through numerous investments and initiatives.
Our $75 billion 10-year infrastructure plan is being rolled-out throughout the nation and this major investment program carries enhanced road safety outcomes through numerous projects such as the; $10 billion for upgrades on the Bruce Highway; $5.6 billion for the Pacific Highway's duplication; and $3.5 billion for Roads of Strategic Importance.
We've also initiated the National Road Safety Governance Review which is the positive first step in following through on the 12 recommendations made in the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 Inquiry which handed down its findings last year.
The Black Spot Program, Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and Road Safety Task Force based within the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development also aim to make a difference and improve safety outcomes.
No matter where you live, the Australian Government wants to help you get home sooner and safer and we can all share responsibility and take affirmative action.
This is especially true for regional Australians who make up about a quarter of our national population but account for more than half of the roads deaths.
Our policy efforts are sharply focused on the need to reduce the number of Australians whose lives are impacted by road deaths and trauma.
We are conscious of the 38,000 people, according to the latest figures, who are hospitalised due to road crash injuries each and every year - that's more than 100 every day of the year.
These are startling statistics and provide another stark reminder of why we all need to do better and remain vigilant on our roads.
This Australian Day long weekend is a time to relax and catch up with friends and family and celebrate all things great about our nation.
But don't be complacent when you get in the car this weekend and do the basics right - wear your seat-belts, don't use mobile phones whilst driving, drive to the conditions, stick to the speed limit, take regular breaks to avoid drive fatigue and never, ever drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Recent reports show human error contributes to more than 90 per cent of all road accidents so concentrate on your own journey, keep an eye out for others and potential danger and always remember it's un-Australian to ignore road safety.