The NRMA has urged the NSW government to "maintain the momentum" from the lowest NSW yearly road toll in almost 100 years.
NSW recorded 270 fatalities in 2021, the lowest yearly road toll since 1923, and 14 less than 2020.
Although regional roads still account for almost 70 per cent of fatalities, there was also a drop in regional road fatalities from 2020.
NRMA head of media Peter Khoury said obviously the figures were affected from coronavirus lockdowns after the middle of the year, but the general momentum was for safer roads and safer driving.
"The statistics weren't too good going into lockdown and not too great coming out of it," he said.
"There are still big issues with drink driving, speeding and now drug-driving.
"I think the seasonal campaigns on driver safety have been working well."
He said the record roads investment by the Federal and State Governments on major highways was bringing results - but this needed to continue.
"We still don't have a five-star safety rating (from AusRAP) for any of our highways but they are a lot safer.
"The Pacific Highway upgrade has just about been completed and the Hume Highway is significantly better and there have been good upgrades on the Princes, New England, Great Western and the Newell.
"We need to maintain these safety standards and local councils need to get more funding to deal with damaged roads after heavy rains. But we're making significant progress."
The NSW Government said "more than 700 lives have been saved on roads across NSW" over the past 10 years, with the "NSW Government successfully achieving its 2012 State Priority Target to reduce fatalities by 30 per cent by 2021".
"The 10-year achievement comes as NSW figures are released for 2021, which saw a road toll of 270, the lowest recorded in NSW since 1923 and 14 less than 2020," it said.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police, Paul Toole, said "an additional 725 people would have died on NSW roads in the past 10 years had the State's road toll remained at the same level as it was between 2008 and 2010 - that's 725 people who would be missing around the family dinner table," Mr Toole said.
"While we're pleased to see the road toll at a near 100-year low, even one life lost on our roads is one too many, which is why we will keep working to drive the road toll towards zero.
"We need everyone to do the right thing to help us achieve that goal - stick to the speed limit, wear your helmet or seatbelt, put the phone away and never, ever drive if you're affected by drugs or alcohol."
Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said the figures show that even before the Delta outbreak in the second half of 2021, NSW was on track to achieve record low road fatalities.
"During the first six months of 2021, there was a record low 139 people killed on NSW roads, 25 less than the average number of people between 2018 and 2020," said Ms Ward.
"Every loss is a tragedy for the person's friends and family, which is why it is so pleasing to see road fatalities declining over the last decade.
"This demonstrates the NSW Government's $822 million Safer Roads program is working, through reducing speed limits in urban areas, delivering safety upgrades at intersections and, and providing traffic calming measures such as pedestrian refuges and crossings," Ms Ward said.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the figures were among the lowest on record for regional roads.
"In the bush, distance often means more time spent on the road and it's all too easy to become complacent about road safety," Mr Farraway said.
"We're working hard to make regional roads safer including record investment on life-saving treatments like safety barriers, rumble strips and wide centrelines but we need everyone to do their bit when they get behind the wheel to ensure they and other road users get home safely."
journalist and author
journalist and author
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.