An investment of $2 billion in New South Wales road infrastructure could prevent over 15,000 fatalities and car accident injuries over the next 20 years, according to a new report by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).
The AAA's latest Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) report, released this week (July 24), proposes a series of investment plans to improve safety on Australia's highways over the next two decades.
Safety measures include the addition of extra lanes at particularly dangerous sections of highway, shoulder rumble strips, protected turning lanes, central median and roadside barriers, and the use of skid-resistant paving.
"The national road toll remains at unacceptably high levels, with sub-standard sections of highway being a significant contributing factor," the report's authors state.
They note that road crashes were responsible for 1,300 deaths in 2012 and the hospitalisation of more than 30,000 people around Australia.
In order to reduce these figures in the future, the report proposes a series of countermeasures wish have a positive benefit/cost ratio.
"It is essential that Australia commits to an accelerated program of upgrading our national highways."
According to AusRAP analysis, its plan for NSW road investment alone could save the community an estimated $7 billion in crash aftermath costs over a 20-year period.
The report acknowledges that human error will always be a risk out on the roads, but highways should be designed to account for this and keep motorists as safe as possible no matter what happens.
"Safe roads minimise the chances of a crash happening and, if they do occur, they minimise the severity of the crash."
NRMA Motoring and Services president Wendy Machin said that the report showed reasonable investment in highway infrastructure safety measures could significantly reduce injuries and deaths on the roads.
"Investing in these cost-effective measures to significantly improve the safety of NSW and ACT highways should be a no-brainer for governments," said Ms Machin in a statement today (July 25).
Ms Machin noted that based on the AusRAP star rating system, just two per cent of roads in NSW and ACT are rated as 4-star and none are 5-star, on a scale of one to five.
"Motorists would no doubt be delighted to hear that for a $2 billion investment, these [ratings] numbers would increase to 26 and 17 per cent respectively."