During 2000, the Sydney region experienced a 12% increase in road fatalities compared to the previous 3-year average. Fatalities within Sydney contributed to 38% of the total NSW road toll. Of these fatalities 61% occurred within Western Sydney.
In addition, RTA research has indicated that nearly 80% of drivers in fatal crashes in Western Sydney were local residents, and more than half of these were close to home (in the same local government area). Furthermore, the population in Western Sydney is regarded as a "growth area". Its current population is around 1.5 million, representing about 1 in 12 Australians.
In response to the rising road toll during 2000, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), Police and the Motor Accidents Authority (MAA) developed an integrated, multi-agency initiative in Western Sydney. Lowering the road toll and reducing injury levels were key targets of the campaign. The program was launched in July 2001. Two years later, in 2003 Operation Westsafe continues to be a major road safety enforcement and public education campaign that addresses the key behaviours of speeding, drink driving and the non-use of restraints.
A central feature of the program is the deployment of up to 60 Police Officers dedicated to the addressing unsafe driving behaviours. The enforcement is supported by a major RTA/MAA public education program, highlighting Police presence and enforcement activity. The Operation is also supported by Local Government.