Road Safety Challenges Associated with Management of Local Council Managed Roads in Country Areas
In light of improvements to the road toll in recent years, it is disturbing that there is minimal improvement in road trauma on unclassified country roads.
Of the 180,000 kilometres of road throughout NSW, the Roads and Traffic Authority, NSW (RTA) is responsible for 21,000 kilometres, with the remainder the responsibility of local governments. However, around 45% of all casualty crashes in NSW occur on these council managed roads.
This paper examines casualty crashes occurring on NSW local council managed roads between 2004 and 2009, and identifies several roads worthy of further review based on a relatively high casualty crash history. Some of these roads are from outer metropolitan Sydney areas, and may be of increasing concern as they become more popular thoroughfares consistent with increasing population growth. Speed appears to be a key factor for some of these local roads, particularly those in country and semi-rural areas, where there tends to be fewer vehicles and lower levels of enforcement of road rules (and so drivers may be more willing to engage in risk-taking behaviours on these roads).
This paper raises several key issues relevant to the management of local roads. In particular, management of road safety is complicated by distinctions between the ‘legal’ versus ‘administrative’ classification of a road. Greater consistency regarding road classifications would allow for more effective management of local roads, and would help to curb casualties on these roads. Solutions in terms of application of the highly successful NSW Multidisciplinary Road Safety Reviews are also considered.