HIGH risk rural roads are the target of a month-long safety campaign launched in Bathurst on Friday.
The Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) launched Rural Road Safety Month by releasing new research and remembering those who tragically lost their lives on regional roads last year.
With two-thirds of road deaths occurring on regional roads, the ARSF has conducted new research which reveals one-in-three NSW drivers admit they are more likely to undertake risky behaviour on rural roads.
Tanika Pintos knows all too well the reality of those risks. Her brother, Todd Sligar, was one of three young men killed three years ago at Trangie.
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Mrs Pintos told Friday's launch how the three men, all best friends, were killed in a fatigue-related crash in the early hours of the morning on April 23, 2016.
The driver fell asleep at the wheel and the car veered across the road, killing all three men. Todd was a passenger in the 4WD.
"This could have been a preventable death and the accident has changed three families' lives forever," Mrs Pintos said.
Mrs Pintos will never get over the news of hearing her only sibling had died.
"I've never been as devastated. My whole world collapsed around me when I got the call," she said.
"There will never be another normal for us again.
"We just have to try and build our lives around what we have lost."
Following Todd's death, Mrs Pintos is now also behind a driver-fatigue awareness campaign.
She said her aim was to take a stand and help prevent any more deaths through driver fatigue.
Her message is simple: Be a champ, stop for a camp.
Mrs Pintos said the road safety message starts with conversations with our children, friends and family members.
"Our families would rather us arrive late than not at all," she said.
As a powerful reminder of the fatal consequences of taking risks behind the wheel, more than 700 large yellow flowers were laid at the launch.
Each flower represented the memory of a life lost on rural roads last year.
ARSF founder and CEO Russell White urged all Australians to take ownership of their role in reducing the rural road toll.
"While there are a number of factors that contribute to the regional road toll, it's everyday Australians that hold the key to safer roads," Mr White said.
"The research revealed drivers are taking risks on rural roads ... [We must] make a collective effort to shift this mentality so that safety is front of mind for all road users."
Mr White said acknowledging every road user has a personal responsibility is the first step.
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