There is no substitute for driver responsibility on our roads.

Modern motor vehicle technology combined with improved roads have significantly reduced the number of accidents, particularly serious ones, on our roads in recent decades. 

Despite that, we are still faced with the grim reality that nine people have died, including three in the past week, on the M1 Motorway in the past year. 

Of particular concern is the rate of fatalities, which is well above the 2.9 per annual average of the past 10 years.

More than 70,000 light and heavy vehicles travel between the Hunter Region and Sydney on the M1 Motorway every day. 

As one of the busiest stretches of road in Australia it is inevitable that there will be some motor vehicle accidents.  

While a precise breakdown of every accident that has occurred on the M1 in the past 12 months is not available, we do know that six of the nine fatalities involved trucks. Three of those who died were struck outside their vehicles. 

Significantly, half of all accidents occurred on or between the Hawkesbury River and Mooney Mooney Creek bridges. 

But the most worrying fact behind many of these accidents was that speed, drink driving and fatigue played a part. 

Work is presently underway on a  $391.6 million upgrade package focusing on three sections of the M1 Motorway. 

There is no doubt this work will make the road safer in the short term.  But as more and more vehicles, particularly heavy vehicles, use the road over the coming decades, will it reduce the number of accidents? 

There is an argument that increasing the speed limit to 130 kilometers an hour on some parts of the M1 would make it safer.

The counter-argument is that if you increase the speed limit in one section, does it make it more difficult to enforce a reduced speed limit in another section that is less safe?

Also, does the risk of an accident through momentary inattention in an area that has a higher speed limit increase?

Likewise, will increased police visibility make our roads safer when almost all accidents do not occur in the presence of police?

Improving the quality of our roads certainly improves overall safety.

But in the end, drivers must also take responsibility of their actions regardless of how good the road or their vehicle is.

ISSUE: 38,970

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