The NSW government releases the Road Safety Plan to combat the road toll

REPEAT OFFENDER: An alcohol interlock device being used
REPEAT OFFENDER: An alcohol interlock device being used

MOTORISTS caught mid-range drink-driving will soon be forced to fit an interlock to their cars under a dramatic change to the state’s laws.

It is just one of the measures introduced in the NSW government’s new Road Safety Plan to combat the road toll following 392 deaths last year.

Those convicted of having a blood alcohol reading of between 0.080 and 0.149 will be ordered to use an interlock, which is a breath-testing device linked to a vehicle’s ignition. Previously it only applied to high-range or repeat offences.

Any costs associated with an interlock, such as installation, lease and servicing, is to be paid by the offender. 

These standard costs are estimated to be about $2200 a year. 

Roadcraft Driving Services instructor Paul Dawson said interlocks will act as a deterrent for drivers. 

“It would have to be a deterrent because it acts like a lock on the door,” he said.

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“Which is a saviour as once a drink-driver is on the road, the machine is a potential weapon.”

Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey said one of the biggest challenges remains on country roads, with regional NSW comprising “one-third of the population yet two-thirds of the road toll". 

Ms Pavey, however, said that extending the use of point-to-point cameras to cars in country areas was not a measure cabinet had approved.

Instead, there will be 11 additional heavy vehicle average speed camera locations.

Ms Pavey that the focus was on the enforcement of heavy vehicles and that the measures being introduced were enough. 

“We believe we've got the balance right. The worst thing we can do is turn country people off the conversation we're having," she said.

The government’s main strategy to combat the road toll in regional NSW is to introduce 1600 kilometres of rumble strips and 300 kilometres in targeted safety works such as wire-rope barriers. 

Harden’s state MP Steph Cooke has backed the Road Safety Plan, saying it is a concerted effort to save lives by making sure roads and vehicles are as safe as possible.

“Every 41 minutes in NSW someone is either killed or seriously injured on our roads, leaving families and friends with the heartache,” she said. “As a government we know we can do more and that is why this plan makes it clear if you break the law, you will be caught and will pay the price.”