“Provisional figures show the 2013 road toll is 339, down from 369 in 2012,” Mr Gay said.
“While fewer fatalities is encouraging, that still means 339 people do not get to spend the new year with friends and family, and their loss will be felt by everyone they knew as we start 2014.”
In 1924 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was only a concept, the population was 2.2 million, with fewer than 150,000 registered vehicles on our roads. There are now around 7.4 million people in the state and nearly five million registered vehicles.
Minister Gay urged all road users to ensure safety is their number one priority, particularly during holiday periods.
“Fatigue and speeding are major issues during the holidays with motorists rushing to their destination, going too fast, pushing on when they are tired or setting out without having a good night’s sleep,” he said.
Centre for Road Safety General Manager Marg Prendergast said the toll is also down by more than one third from a decade ago, when the 2003 road toll was 539.
“The main contributors to the improved figure for 2013 were reductions in passenger and pedestrian deaths,” Ms Prendergast said.
“There were 49 passenger deaths in 2013, down by 40 per cent on 2012 and the lowest passenger fatality total since records began in 1939.
“42 pedestrians were killed in 2013, down by 24 per cent on 2012. This is the lowest number of pedestrian fatalities since those records began in 1928.
“There were also fewer deaths on country roads, down by 13 per cent on 2012, and in crashes involving heavy trucks, which are down by 22 per cent.”
Ms Prendergast said despite the overall reduction in deaths, the Centre for Road Safety has strategies in place to tackle the components of the road toll that increased in 2013.
“Tragically, there were more motorcycle and cyclist deaths in 2013 than 2012,” she said.
“71 motorcycle riders lost their lives on the road in 2013, up from 61 in 2012. Around half of all motorcycle fatal crashes only involved a motorcycle.
“In 2014 the Centre for Road Safety and the NSW Police Force will continue working closely with the motorcycling community to implement the NSW Motorcycle Safety Strategy with the goal of reversing this trend.
“There were 14 cyclist deaths in 2013, double the number in 2012. We’re developing a new Cycling Safety Strategy and are determined to bring down the number of cycling deaths.
“The contribution of speed in road fatalities has grown from 40 to 42 per cent and fatigue from 17 to 20 per cent.”
Minister Gay said he hoped to see the downward trend in fatalities continue this year.
“In 2014, let’s all play our part to bring the road toll down further. Whether you drive a car or a truck, ride a bicycle or motorcycle, or even when you’re walking near roads – every life lost is a reminder we can all do our bit,” he said.
“Road deaths are avoidable. Please stick to the speed limit, drive to the conditions, wear your seatbelt, make sure you’re well rested before you set off and have a Plan B to get home if you’re drinking.
“These simple things greatly reduce your chance of being involved in a crash.”