car crash art for DT homepage
car crash art for DT homepage

Revealed: NSW’s five most deadly holiday routes

New South Wales' most deadly holiday routes have been revealed as double demerit point penalties kick in for the holiday period.

Data provided to News Corp by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) shows the top five roads where the most deaths and serious injuries have occurred over the holiday period.

It comes as NSW Police launched Operation Safe Arrival and double demerit point penalties for a number of offences.

RMS analysed road trauma statistics on drivers, passengers and motorcyclists from November 1, 2018, to February 28, 2019, to reveal the top five most dangerous roads based on serious injuries and fatalities.

Eleven fatalities and 171 serious injuries were recorded over the period, with the NSW section of the Pacific Highway that stretches from North Sydney to Tweed Heads before continuing into Queensland recording the greatest combined total of 59.

Three deaths and 56 serious injuries were recorded on what is one of the busiest routes in Australia, which also carriers high levels of heavy vehicles and freight movements.

Incidents on the Hume Hwy lead to two deaths and 38 hospitalisations, while on the Princes Hwy 34 serious injuries were noted.

Eleven fatalities and 171 serious injuries were recorded on five roads from November 1, 2018, to February 28, 2019. Picture: Liam Driver
Eleven fatalities and 171 serious injuries were recorded on five roads from November 1, 2018, to February 28, 2019. Picture: Liam Driver

The New England Hwy proved the most deadly with five fatalities on the 201-kilometre route, as well as 19 serious injuries. But on a combined total, the New England Highway ranked above with 24 serious injuries and one death.

Executive Director for the Centre of Road Safety Bernard Carlon said speeding, drink driving and fatigue were the most common factors in NSW road crashes.

"We want everyone to enjoy the summer break and arrive safely at their destination," Mr Carlon said.

Despite the startling numbers, trauma (deaths and serious injuries) figures on those roads have trended downwards over the past three years.

Over the same period in 2016/2017, they were 241 before falling to 214 in 2017/2018 and again to 182 in 2018/2019.

But Australian Road Safety Foundation Russell CEO Russell White said that was no reason to be complacent.

Mr White said driver fatigue was an issue over the holiday period, and recommended organising a second driver on long distances to minimise the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.

Adjusting to different environments was also an issue, he said.

"People who have been conditioned to drive in an urban environment might suddenly find themselves on a freeway or a much more open road. That can mean that people aren't looking far enough ahead, or aren't appropriately prepared for a particular stretch of road.

He also warned locals not to rely on assumptions about roads they travel frequently in the event of an increased number of holiday-makers travelling through.

The double demerit point period in NSW began on Friday, December 20 and will conclude on Wednesday, January 1, and runs concurrently with Operation Safe Arrival.

Double demerit points will be applicable on speeding, seatbelt, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences.

NSW Police officers will also be targeting other poor driver behaviour, including drink-and-drug-driving.

"Take the appropriate measures to ensure you do not place yourselves or others at risk through poor decision making. With double demerits and police out in force, we want everyone to make a safe arrival to their destination," NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott said.

It comes as research from comparison site showed that almost a third of respondents from a survey more than 1000 people planned to travel the country this summer.

The survey also highlighted the activities which distract Aussies behind the wheel.

Finder Insurance specialist Taylor Blackburn said drivers should make sure their car is roadworthy, their insurance is up-to-date and that they have roadside assistance.

A survey of 1000 motorists by the comparison site found 44 per cent admitted to eating food while behind the wheel, 11 per cent had sent a text message without using voice control, and 10 per cent had answered a call without using a hands-free device.

"If you're engaging in risky behaviour behind the wheel and you are in an accident, you may not be able to claim the damage on your insurance," Mr Blackburn said.

"Comprehensive car insurance also won't cover damage that's been caused by illegal activities such as texting and driving."

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