'Shocking ads' to be rolled out in response to spiking road toll

Shock-tactic commercials like the 1980's "Grim Reaper" AIDS campaign are set to be rolled out in 2017 in a bid by the NSW government to cut the state's increasing road toll.

Road Minister Duncan Gay told the Daily Telegraph he wanted to "get into the minds" of idiot drivers.

While the Baird government had committed to spend less on advertising, Mr Gay said he wanted to reverse that decision in relation to road safety following a massive spike in on-road deaths.

Despite the NSW government spending a record $309 million on campaigns in 2016, deaths on the state's roads reached 374 at 2pm on Christmas Day.

While somewhat comical now, the 1987 Grim Reaper ad shocked Australians into being wary of AIDS.
While somewhat comical now, the 1987 Grim Reaper ad shocked Australians into being wary of AIDS.
Road deaths in NSW are up in 2016. Source: 7 News
Road deaths in NSW are up in 2016. Source: 7 News

That's an increase of 15 per cent from 2015's 322 on-road deaths.

“We all remember the Grim Reaper ad in the late ’80s and how we were personally affected by it. Maybe having a little bit of that kind of ‘shock factor’ in the mix of our ads is exactly what motorists need,” Mr Gay told the newspaper.

“The carnage on our roads is not pretty and exposing it might make people think twice before they speed, drink and drug-drive or text while driving.”

Opposition roads spokeswoman Jodi McKay accused the government of relying on speed cameras to reduce the road toll "for too long".

“We need to change driver behaviour, not just punish drivers when they’ve done the wrong thing,” Ms McKay said.

The increased death toll came despite the state government's Toward Zero campaign with a focus on the human factor being getting rolled out earlier in the year.

The opposition said more needed to be done beyond fining drivers. Source: 7 News
The opposition said more needed to be done beyond fining drivers. Source: 7 News
Road fatalities are up in NSW despite record spending. Source: Transport NSW
Road fatalities are up in NSW despite record spending. Source: Transport NSW

Many dot-matrix transport information signs above the state's roads have already been used to notify drivers of this year's increased road toll.

A similar information campaign was employed in the US state of Tennessee in 2012 in response to a surge in fatalities that surpassed 1000.

Tennessee's road signs told people how many people were killed on the road compared to the year before. Source: Tennessee Department of Transportation
Tennessee's road signs told people how many people were killed on the road compared to the year before. Source: Tennessee Department of Transportation

The 150 signs across the state told drivers the exact number of road deaths that year compared to the pervious year with blunt message that said "don't be next".

By April 2013, road deaths fell by 23 per cent in the state with fewer people deaths on the state's roads overall by year's end.

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