Practicing Proper Road Safety in Sydney

Navigating the driving and parking Sydney landscape can be difficult. On the one hand, you have the road rage drivers, who will stop at nothing to get to work on time and swoop in for the best parking space. And, then, of course, there are the many buses and taxis that travel back and forth along the Sydney roads. The traffic congestion makes you wonder just how safe the roads are these days.

Parkhound has been wondering exactly the same thing. So, we dug up whatever information we could about Sydney’s rates of accidents and mishaps on the road. How does an ever growing city deal with the influx of drivers? Is the city doing anything to add to road safety?

Fasten your seat belt for this very interesting look into the world of driving and parking Sydney!

A trip to the past: driving and parking Sydney and Australia over the years

Road safety has long been a topic on Australia’s mind. And sadly, it’s been quite a bit of bad news. 

ABC News created a stunning interactive data visualisation commemorating every person who has passed away due to a driving accident since 1989. The graphic, which is updated often with the most recent reports, shows a single dot for every road death, as well as pop up descriptions for some of the cases. As of the most recent update, there are 48,592 dots.

And, how about Sydney specifically? When you take a look at the numbers in Sydney, a city with some of the worst traffic congestion in the country, the number of road accidents is usually high. In 2000, there were 543 fatal accidents in NSW, accounting for a 7.3% increase from the year before. When it came to non-fatal accidents that resulted in injury, the increase from 1999 was 10%. That year, there were 52,914 total recorded accidents, which was 48 more than was reported the year before.

Yet, it’s important to note that in the 20 years since the turn of the century, the number of road accidents has fallen. By 2005, there were 45,554 total recorded crashes in New South Wales. Of those, 459 were fatal accidents. Another 5 years later, in 2010, the final count for accidents was 42,299, of which 365 were fatal. By 2015, there were 326 fatal crashes.

What we’re seeing, you might have noticed, is that not only is there a decrease in accidents, but also that accidents are less likely to be fatal now than they were in 2000.

So, what’s to account for the changes? Let’s take a look.

What has been done to help the situation? What can we look forward to?

Yes, the total number of road accidents in Sydney has declined over the last twenty years. And, perhaps because of better car technology, those accidents are less likely to result in serious injuries or death. Even the introduction of  mandatory seat belt laws in 1972 had the effect of decreasing road deaths by 10%. So, clearly, we can all benefit from safer cars.

Yet, when you think about the numbers – 14,65 casualty crashes in 2018 – you might be wondering if more can be done to create better road safety across Australia. Of course, the answer is yes. Australia has seen a few major developments and ongoing campaigns to make the road safer, and many have been successful.

Take the plans for public transport upgrades, for instance. With more opportunities to leave the car at home, thousands of Sydney residents will be able to avoid the dangers of traffic congestion, not to mention the hassle of parking Sydney. The hope is that with fewer drivers on the road, the less likely that road rage will lead to hasty and reckless driving. And so far, it seems to be working. According to some estimates, Sydney saw a decrease in drivers in CBD of 12% between 2015 and 2018. Not surprisingly, there was an 11% increase in public transport use during that same time. Clearly, the public transport system is working for many commuters.

You can read more about these changes in our recent article, The Future of Sydney Public Transport. Not only do we talk about major transit developments, but we also discuss some of the best parking options, in Parramatta and Westmead, for anyone interested in avoiding the commute into CBD completely.

In addition to the public transit upgrades, the government of NSW has introduced the 2021 Road Safety Plan. The main goal is to get the number of road fatalities down to zero by 2056. It may seem like a lofty goal, but the details of the plan are promising. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Improved signage and safer country roads just outside of Sydney with wider shoulders and safety barriers
  • The use of traffic calming installations, such as roundabouts and safer pedestrian crossings
  • Decreased speed limits in high pedestrian traffic areas
  • Safety upgrades for intersections
  • Better bike lanes 
  • Faster and more efficient response time to crash reports

The plan also promises to continually test and evaluate the upgrades to make sure that future plans are based on evidence. And, it’s committed to using the latest technology to make roads safer and address issues more efficiently. 

The Road Safety Plan builds on even earlier attempts at making driving and parking Sydney safer. The Community Road Safety Fund of 2013, for instance, provided capital for important projects like improving guideposts and reflectors, installing new protection for motorcycle users on kerb-side barriers, and replacing and improving old signage. These earlier works were also committed to making pedestrian crossing safer by preventing unsafe crossings on medians and installing more flashing lights around school zones. 

As you can see, there’s a lot being done around the city of Sydney to lower traffic congestion, improve traffic fluidity, make road safety a priority for pedestrians and motorists, and decrease the response time for crashes. It’s no wonder, then, that overall, Sydney has seen a decrease in traffic accidents despite the general increase in population. 

What can you do to ensure the best road safety for yourself and your family?

While it’s amazing to see all of the improvements and changes that have made driving and parking Sydney safer, there are also quite a few things that individuals can do to keep themselves safe. 

Tip #1: Know the driving and parking Sydney to avoid

For the times that you will inevitably have to branch out from your local area, it’s helpful to know the zones where Sydney traffic accidents are the most prevalent. Luckily the Centre for Road Safety has some thorough data visualisations to help us learn more about where crashes are most likely to take place

The hotspots for collisions from 2018 in NSW included Canterbury-Bankstown with 961 casualties, Central Coast with 720, Sydney with 711, Blacktown with 697, and Parramatta with 660. When you zoom in on the crashes that occured in Sydney, you’ll find that most of them were clustered around CBD, Surry Hills, and Pyrmont.

This data also lets us know what kind of accidents are most common in the metropolitan area versus country roads. As you could probably guess, collisions resulting from rear ending, lane changing, and entering an intersection are far more likely to take place in the inner city than in the outer suburbs. Pedestrians are also far more vulnerable in the inner city than they are in the outer suburbs. 

Interestingly, the majority of crashes happen in broad daylight during fair weather days. You may have assumed that crashes would be more common at night or during difficult weather conditions, but across the city accidents are more likely to take place on an average day. It just goes to show that we could all pay a bit more attention on the roads during our normal commutes.

Tip #2: Find off-street parking Sydney options

Another great way to avoid collisions is to stay off the street when parking. Often, street parking can be difficult to navigate and can take your attention off of the cars around you as you scan for the perfect parking space.

When you opt for off-street parking, all you have to do is locate a car park and pull in. Then you’re not dealing with busier thoroughfares while you parallel park.

Another option could be to book a monthly parking space with Parkhound. You’ll be able to find a convenient, affordable parking space in the areas with even the highest traffic congestion so that you don’t have to fight for on street parking or competitive and expensive car parks. From Pyrmont to Bankstown and everywhere in between, you can book your very own parking space to keep you and your car safe.

Tip #3: Invest in the safest car

Good technology can keep you safe. It’s as simple as that. While the city works on improving road safety and traffic congestion, one of the best things you can do is invest in a safe car. 

Tip #4: Stay up-to-date on changes

One of the most stressful parts of driving is realising that things have changed in your normal route. Staying up-to-date on planned construction changes means you’ll never be caught off-guard or stuck in that horrendous construction traffic congestion.

Tip #5: Are you a road rage driver? Practice being more zen on the road

Again, cue the eye roll. But we’re on your side here! If you’re one of those drivers who just can’t stay calm on the road, you might be putting yourself at risk for more accidents. After all, when you’re seeing red, you might not be making the best driving decisions.

Mindfulness meditation when you’re not driving, and calming techniques when you’re behind the wheel are great tricks for lowering stress and road rage.

Tip #6: Try to be a defensive driver

We get it. City driving can be intense. But too many aggressive drivers on the road is a recipe for disaster. The more we learn to be accommodating when we drive, we can lead by example. So even if it means you’re going to be a little bit late, try to take the passive route every once in a while. 

Conclusions on driving and parking Sydney road safety

In a city with as much traffic congestion as Sydney, it can be hard to imagine a world without car accidents. You might worry about it every time you try parking on the street in CBD. Maybe it’s on your mind when the roads are wet, and it seems like everyone has road rage. But overall, we at Parkhound think our city is moving in a good direction. 

There are more off-street, safe parking Sydney options, better and safer car technology, and city-wide plans to make road safety a priority. While we’d love to see an accident-free Sydney, it’s good to know that car accidents are on the decline. And, we can always do our own part to making driving and parking Sydney even safer.