Nation's fatalities up 17 per cent in January
Nation's fatalities up 17 per cent in January John Gass

Our shameful road toll

CLARENCE VALLEY road crashes have killed 10 people last year in eight crashes with the national death toll to January now standing at 1166.

This is the same as in 2017, but double that of 2016, where five people were killed on Valley roadss, according to the Federal Government's Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics figures.

The latest Federal Government statistics show the nation's road toll spiked in January, up 17 per cent on the same time last year.

NSW recorded 37 deaths in January alone, equal to the same time last year.

Already, the Clarence Valley is off to a horror start with four dying in road crashes this year.

Over the past five comparison years, 1786 people have died on NSW roads:

January 2015, 310 deaths;

January 2016, 338 deaths;

January 2017, 385 deaths;

January 2018, 396 deaths; and

January 2019, 357 deaths.

New national data which shows men are three times more likely to die on Australian roads, outnumbering women 854 to 291, is mirrored locally with all 10 deaths that occurred last year males.

Nationally, the number of female deaths is also down 13 per cent on the previous year.

All but one of the fatal incidents occurred where the posted speed limit was 100km/h, and only one of the crashes involved a truck - which was a double fatality between two trucks on the Gwydir Highway.

Nationally, fatal crashes are more likely to happen on a Sunday than any other day of the week and most fatal crashes happen during the day, 658 to 425 at night.

In the Clarence Valley, of the eight crashes they were spread out over the week with the only day not recording a fatality a Saturday, with five of the eight crashes occurring in the daytime.

National figures show road deaths per 100,000 population are down to 4.7 fatalities, a 6.5 per cent decrease on the previous year but Centre for Automotive Safety Research director Jeremy Woolley said the statistics did not paint the full picture.

"There's no indication of serious injuries from road accidents," Dr Woolley said.

"What we do know is that very conservatively it is estimated that 36,000 people a year are admitted to hospital (due to road accident injury), and some databases put that figure higher. We are two years off having a national database that will provide an accurate snapshot."

The Federal Government's National Road Safety Action Plan 2018-2020 defines the need for a database as a "critical action". A pilot project is under way.

Dr Woolley said the government "could do much more" to improve road safety.

"They need to take more accountability about the performance of the nation's roads," he said. "Safety should be the preliminary focus of any new road project. The problem is that everyone assumes safety is number one, but no one manages it.

"And they should be accelerating the introduction of life-saving technology in cars."

Almost one in five deaths were passengers and 169 crashes involved pedestrian deaths.