Holiday road toll up on last year

Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday 30 December 2003
By Geesche Jacobsen

More people died on the state's roads this holiday season than at the same time last year, but police say the number of injuries and major crashes for the whole year has fallen.

Fourteen people have died on NSW roads since December 19, five more than in the same period last year. Nationally, there have been 50 deaths so far in the holiday period. The state's road toll for the year stands at 550, five more than last year. But the total number of injuries was 592, down from 651 last year, and major crashes 1834, down from 1583.

While road user groups say the Government is failing to do enough to educate drivers and crack down on offenders, NSW Police traffic commander, Chief Superintendent John Hartley, said enforcement efforts had been stepped up this year. The focus was on speeding, alcohol and the failure to wear seatbelts.

Harold Scruby, chairman of the Pedestrian Council of NSW, said the Government had promised to reduce the number of deaths substantially by 2005. However, the road toll had been fairly steady for three years.

Deaths a grim reminder that jaywalkers tread path to peril

By Michael Pelly

The next time you decide the traffic lights are taking too long to change, bear in mind that more than 300 people have been fined for jaywalking in NSW this year.

Police said they would continue their tough stand because pedestrians were to blame for 54 per cent of the 92 pedestrian deaths on state roads this year.

With $49 from each on-the-spot fine, about $15,000 has poured into state revenue. But more transgressors have escaped with warnings, especially in the city centre.

The most prevalent factor is alcohol (26 per cent), prompting the head of traffic services, Chief Superintendent John Hartley, to issue a warning.

"There is more to worry about this time of year because of the amount of alcohol and people not driving because they are drinking," he said.

"It would help if people waited for the traffic lights to change instead of looking for a break in the traffic. The vast percentage [of deaths] are out in the middle of the road."

Of those fined for jaywalking, 207 had been nabbed by highway patrol officers.

A further 43 had been fined for "staying on the road longer than necessary to cross safely".

Chief Superintendent Hartley said pedestrians accounted for 18 per cent of all road deaths. Almost 70 per cent of pedestrian deaths happened where there were no traffic signals or crossings, and those older than 66 made up 40 per cent of the toll.

At about 8am one day last week, a 72-year-old man was struck and killed by a car while trying to cross Bartley Road in Cabramatta.

The most worrying feature of the pedestrian deaths, Chief Superintendent Hartley said, was that 69 per cent were well away from traffic lights or pedestrian crossings.

Police blamed motorists for 40 per cent of pedestrian deaths, with negligent driving involved in 10 per cent.

On average, the worst day was Wednesday (22 per cent) and the worst time 4pm to 6pm (20 per cent). Males accounted for 64 per cent of deaths.

The most vulnerable age group is 76 to 95, with 24 deaths this year. "Most of the time they just misjudge how long it is going to take them to cross," Chief Superintendent Hartley said.