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NSW MOTORISTS are more likely to crash on country roads, which is the sobering message of this month’s Rural Road Safety Month with drivers urged to rethink their driving habits.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack, Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Andrew Gee,  and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole joined the Australian Road Safety Foundation for the Rural Road Safety Month launch in Bathurst today.

Mr McCormack said road safety was everyone’s responsibility, with motorists and riders playing an important role in driving down the road toll.

“Of the 189 people who died in road crashes in NSW in the last 12 months, 145 of those were on country roads – which is six more than the same time last year,” Mr McCormack said.

“We know one in three Australian drivers are more likely to undertake risky behaviour on rural roads because they believe they’re either less likely to get caught or perceive there to be fewer dangers.

“The Federal Government takes road safety seriously. Just last week I announced a new Joint Committee on Road Safety aimed at driving down road trauma because one death and one crash on our roads is one too many.”

Mr Toole said country roads account for more than two-thirds of all fatalities and more than one-third of all serious injuries on NSW roads.

“Every life lost on our roads is a tragedy, especially for the victim’s family and friends, but it also has a ripple effect on the local community,” Mr Toole said.

“In small country communities, it’s not uncommon for first responders who arrive at a crash and the medical teams who try to save the lives of the drivers and passengers to know the victims.

“Too often, people think it’s okay for them to quickly check a text, to drive faster than the speed limit because they know the road or they get behind the wheel when they’re tired. It’s not.

“The message is clear: don’t drive tired. Don’t text while driving. Definitely don’t drive while under the influence. And please wear your seatbelt no matter what.”

Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said the Federal Government’s $100 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects over the next decade would help to improve road safety.

“Too often we see the devastating effects a road fatality can have on close-knit country communities. We are upgrading roads right across the nation to get Australians home to their families sooner and safer,” Mr Gee said.

“In April’s Federal Budget, we announced an extra $1.1 billion for the Roads to Recovery Program, an additional $550 million for the Black Spot Program, another $275 million for the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program and an extra $275 million for the Bridges Renewal Program.”

Rural Road Safety Month runs for the duration of August and is a national awareness campaign promoting regional and rural road safety month.