The poor quality of parts of Australia’s regional road network is resulting in a high number of crashes and fatalities. Between 2008 and 2016, the Office of Road Safety identifies that 55% of road fatalities in Australia occurred in regional areas.
Key reasons for higher death rates outside of cities are high speed roads and road design characteristics - a number of roads in regional and remote areas are undivided, single carriageways with poorer surface conditions and geometry, and increased roadside hazards (legacy road standard). 73% of fatalities in regional areas were the result of lane departure (run-off road and head-on) crashes.
Relative to population size, the number of fatalities in regional areas was over four times greater than for major cities over the same period.
While behavioural factors are a significant cause of road crashes, infrastructure deficiencies such as the curvature of roads are also a cause of accidents. Infrastructure can play an important role in mitigating the consequences of road accidents through features such as safety barriers and the appropriate placement of embankments, poles and other roadside objects.