Only half of NSW’s regional councils have participated in the state government’s road safety program despite “a disproportionate amount of trauma” occurring on regional roads, a report says.
The NSW Auditor General says TfNSW has taken the approach that local road safety should be managed by councils, but only half of regional councils participated in its Local Government Road Safety Program in 2022-23.
TfNSW has also not updated the program since 2014, despite commitments to do so 2021 and 2022, the report finds.
The LGRSP was created in 1992 as a voluntary initiative to help regional councils implement local road safety program, including the appointment of Road Safety Officers (RSOs) and the development of local road safety action plans.
However, only 48 of the 92 regional councils are participating in the plan, putting the LGRSP at risk of being an ineffective support measure, Auditor General Margaret Crawford says in a report released last week.
At the end of September 2023, six of the 48 had vacant RSO roles and were without local road safety plans.
“This low level of involvement in regional LGAs has persisted since 2017–18 despite the funding advantages resulting from participation in the LGRSP and appointing an RSO,” Ms Margaret Crawford says.
TfNSW failing to work with councils
TfNSW also has outstanding requests from 2021-22 for speed limit reviews from local councils in regional parts of the state.
“The audit team has seen no evidence that TfNSW is consolidating local level plans to identify issues and strategies for regional New South Wales as a whole, or that it is leveraging the information provided by councils to inform management decisions about improving regional road safety outcomes,” she says.
The report also found there’s no regional plan in relation to the state government’s Road Safety Action Plan 2026, which sets a goal of zero deaths or serious injuries by 2050.
Boosting local government involvement
The report makes a number of recommendations, including expediting a review of the LGRSP to increase the involvement of local councils.
In a letter to Ms Crawford NSW Transport Secretary Josh Murray says TfNSW is committed to reviewing the LGRSP.
“TfNSW is committed to review the Local Government Road Safety Program to ensure every council has access to a Road Safety Officer to better resource their road safety planning and integration in their local communities,” he said.
Approximately 80 per cent of NSW roads are classified as local roads which means they are administered and managed by local councils.
Local councils also have responsibility for maintaining regional roads that run through their local government areas.
Deaths on regional roads make up some two thirds of the state’s toll, the same as ten years ago, with 9,776 people killed or seriously injured on regional roads between 2016 and 2020.
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