Now up to 40 with days in hand, the NSW December 2017 road toll will not only buck trends, but mark one of the deadliest festive periods on the state’s regional roads in recent memory.
A double fatality near Darlington Point around a fortnight ago where police say the car lost control and collided with a tree featured two young people from the same family.
It left the community reeling, still coping with losing two more locals in an incident involving a van in Sydney earlier in the month.
Then, word spread like wildfire when ‘another one’ came to light on Christmas morning, with a single fatality on Rankins Springs Road.
Country NSW main arterial roads and dusty back tracks are falling woefully behind the other states and territories for road safety and bush infrastructure maintenance.
Long stretches of SA and Victorian main highways inevitably steer drivers towards being conservative and waiting the time it takes to travel 5km before passing a slower vehicle using an overtaking lane.
Overtaking lanes on main roads between Mildura and Wagga Wagga virtually non existent.
The MIA is in a particularly hairy position off the main regional highways, where smaller roads in worse shape are generally hosting similar amounts of heavy traffic as the Sturt and Newell.
If this Christmas period’s road toll numbers in the MIA have taught us anything, financially backing safer country roads should be priority for our state government.
The MIA can dream about road upgrades, but it’ll remain on tenterhooks waiting hopefully for a formal, financial and detailed commitment to a Griffith Base Hospital rebuild.
Since then, two new Sydney stadiums have been announced, costed and time lined. And over 200 people have died on dilapidated NSW roads.
If this poles and wires-nought Regional Fund is as exciting as the government has been spruiking over the past six months, maybe let’s spend it where lives are on the line – in health and on our roads.
Or, if the Berejiklian Government would rather stockpile the ‘fund’ for a prettier-looking budget, then spend a billion dollars on rebuilding one stadium, and spend the rest starting a much-needed mass regional road upgrade.