THERE is something discomfiting about claiming any good news when it comes to the road toll.
Every life lost on the roads is a life wasted, leaving behind countless grieving family members and friends.
So 353 deaths on NSW roads in 2018 should be a tragedy without compare – except it isn’t, because the silver lining surrounding the 2018 road toll is the 36 lives that were not lost.
That’s the difference between the 2017 and 2018 road tolls – a fall of almost 10 per cent in just 12 months.
To borrow from the NSW government road safety campaign: Towards Zero? Not exactly, but better than the rising toll recorded the previous two years, which broke the falling trend that had started in 2009.
Naturally, helpful trends mean nothing to the individuals caught in the tragedy of road trauma, so all we as a society can do is make sure there are fewer of them every year.
Advances in motoring technology and safety features mean our survival chances have never been better, but we keep finding ways of making them less so.
And local figures from Operation Safe Arrival, the annual police blitz of NSW roads over Christmas and New Year, show that too many drivers are still making bad decisions.
Officers across the four Central West police districts issued 435 speeding tickets during the 12-day operation, and – even more startling – 47 fines for people not wearing a seatbelt.
At least the number of people caught drink-driving was down on the year before, but 57 is still a shocking number of drivers who apparently believe the law does not apply to them.
We still need to do better, and given the top four causes of fatal car accidents are speeding, alcohol consumption, driver fatigue and inattention/distraction while driving, there is much each individual motorist can do.
Men, especially ,need to make changes, after a year in when male behaviour has been found wanting in many areas.
Males make up an overwhelmingly proportion of road toll (72 per cent of road fatalities from 2013-2017). This statistic cannot be accounted for simply by the greater number of men who drive for a living, nor the longer hours they spend on the road.
Like so much of what happens behind the wheel, it comes down to attitude.
If we get that right, everything else will naturally follow.