Billions earmarked to drive a roads recovery
A MAMMOTH $2.2 billion will be poured into road safety funding under Tuesday's Federal Budget, targeting critical works such as road widening and intersection upgrades, particularly in the regions, in a bid to save lives.
Some of the funds will flow through local councils, who will be able to prioritise local projects, as the government moves quickly to secure voter support in regional areas.
The money will particularly be targeted by councils towards preventing fatal road crashes.
Tuesday's budget will lock in an extra $1.1 billion in funding for local governments under the Roads to Recovery program, which allows councils to fix problems with potholes and kerbing, and improve lighting on dangerous rural roads.
There will also be an extra $550 million to tackle black spots.
The current black spot program has reduced crashes by 30 per cent in high-risk locations.
As well, a further $571 million will be spent on safety for heavy vehicles, targeting bridges and rest spots for truck drivers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding was designed to halt fatal crashes, which were becoming far too common.
"More than a thousand Australians died on our roads last year. That's devastating," he said. "These are mums who didn't make it home from work, or children that didn't make it to school."
He said local councils were in the best position to identify black spots and decide where the money should be spent.
Under the investment, the government will also establish a new office of road safety - a national point of contact for road safety priorities, which will work with all states, territories and local governments.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the massive roads investment would not only save lives but was also about creating jobs.
He said the safer heavy vehicle operations were also critical to the goal of bringing down the road toll.
He said 2018 saw 81 fewer deaths nationwide compared to 2017, but there was no room for complacency.
"We must push ahead with practical measures and infrastructure funding to drive road deaths towards zero," he said.
The package also includes $12 million for road safety "innovation" to support research and development.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the road safety investment was possible because of the government's strong economic management.
WHERE THE FUNDS ARE GOING
● $1.1 billion roads to recovery: Money will be given to councils to fix potholes and kerbing, and improve lighting
● $550m for black spot safety: Improving safety at accident sites
● $571 million for heavy vehicles: The funds will establish more rest areas/truck stops and work on bridges