Transport Minister Eric Charlton today urged Western Australian motorists to be especially vigilant between now and the New Year in an effort to preserve the State's position as the safest in the nation.
"So far this festive season Western Australians have shown they care about road safety at a time when the national road toll has rocketed to horrendous levels," Mr Charlton said.
"In the countdown to New year we have to be even more vigilant, especially when it comes to driving on country roads where the slightest moment of inattention can result in tragedy.
"It is crucial that motorists concentrate on maintaining a straight line, especially on country roads where hitting gravel verges can force an over-correction and result in a potentially fatal crash."
Mr Charlton said WA's Christmas road toll now stood at two, in a national total of 56.
"It is extremely pleasing that we have recorded only two road deaths so far but I urge people to take up the challenge by driving with special care," he said.
"Our overall road toll now stands at 196 which is 51 fewer than last year and that is something we can all take pride in.
"This year we have put into place many initiatives aimed at improving the skill level of motorists and to raise awareness about the need to change driver behaviour.
"Our schools-based education program, which teaches road safety awareness to pre-primary children upwards, places major emphasis on driver behaviour as well as teaching basic road rules.
"With our graduated driver training system to be introduced soon we will see a new generation of better educated, higher-skilled young drivers who will bring a new and more positive attitude towards motoring."
Mr Charlton said the new generation of first- time drivers would be required to document up to 60, or so hours of driving under the tuition of an experienced motorist before gaining a licence.
They would be required to drive under a variety of road conditions, including driving at night, driving on gravel roads and learning how to deal with driver-fatigue. The Minister said the Government's initiatives to improve motoring safety would be complemented by a major advertising campaign.
Mr Charlton also reminded the motoring public that new penalties for road traffic offences would come into force on New Year's Day.
"The new penalties bring WA into line with other States and are designed to encourage people to obey the rules of the road," he said.
"The important thing is to remind people that this is part of a broad set of road safety initiatives aimed at reducing road death and road trauma but ultimately it is up to every individual driver to take responsibility for his or her own safety.
"It is important that people constantly remind themselves that last year 247 people died on WA roads and more than 2,500 people were seriously injured. The grief inflicted upon the families of the dead and injured is immeasurable."
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 08 9321 7333