The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Contributed

Country road deaths spike in 2016

DEATHS on the state's country roads have accounted for almost 90% of the worrying road toll rise in 2016, which saw 34 more fatalities than 2015.

A total of 384 people were killed NSW, almost 10% up on the 350 people killed in the previous year.

The tragic statistic is also the second consecutive rise in road deaths after 2014 saw the lowest road toll on record, with 307 deaths.

A deep concern for Northern Rivers residents is the number of fatalities on country roads, which accounted for 30 of extra deaths - or 88%.

Centre for Road Safety Executive Director Bernard Carlon noted the spike in country deaths was due to "significant increases in fatigue related crashes and excessive speeding".

Young driver deaths were also up by 12 to 52, and middle aged driver deaths rose by 17 to 79.

"No loss of life is acceptable and we are investing heavily in road safety programs to drive the road toll towards zero," Mr Carlon said.

"Since the worst road toll in 1978 with more than 1,300 fatalities, we reduced that to around 800 fatalities in 1990, and around 600 fatalities in 2000, but there is more work to do.

"We know we can continue to strive for zero fatalities because road deaths are decreasing over time," Mr Carlon said.

"We need the help of every single road user to take personal responsibility and make safe choices on and around our roads.

"If you make one New Year's resolution to keep yourself accountable in 2017, then let it be a commitment to making responsible decisions every time you get behind the wheel so you and the people you love get back home safely."

Some simple road safety resolution suggestions:

- I won't let my mate drive if he has a drink.

- I will always make sure all my passengers have their seatbelts on before I start the car.

- I will switch off my mobile before I drive.

- I will take regular rest breaks on long drives.

- When I set cruise control it will always be under the speed limit.

- I will download the Speed Advisor app and use it to stay under the limit.

Although there was a marked increase in the road toll in 2016, it is the seventh lowest total since 1944.

The fatality rate based on population is the fourth lowest since records began in 1908.

With the holiday season still underway, double demerits will be in place until January 2.

The next double demerits period will apply from January 25 to 29 for the Australia Day long weekend.

The 2016 road toll is preliminary at this stage and may change as a result of police investigations or coroner's findings. The final road toll will be able to be confirmed later in the year.

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