Lifestyle & Belief

Australia highway crashes car accidents road safety

A woman survived a car crash near Sydney, Australia, only to be hit and killed by several cars as she ran onto the highway, the Australian Associated Press reported.

AAP cited police as saying the 27-year-old woman was driving with her mother toward Sydney on the Southern Freeway when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed through a side railing into vegetation.

Both women were unhurt, however AAP cited a statement from Wollongong police as saying: "The 27-year-old woman immediately got out of the Mitsubishi (and) ran through bush and onto the northbound lanes of the freeway. 

"The woman was struck by several cars including a red Toyota Hi-Ace and a silver Holden Commodore. She sustained head injuries and died at the scene."

The drivers of both vehicles were taken to a local hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.

More than 1,200 people were killed on Australian roads during 2011 — the lowest number of road deaths since 1946, according to official figures.

However, in keeping with a five-year trend, that number is down 4.4 percent from 2010, a recent statement from the Transport Ministry said. 

Road deaths in the US also fell in 201, to their lowest number since 1949, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures cited by Detroit News.

An estimated 32,310 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, down 1.7 percent over the 32,885 road deaths in 2010.

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Meanwhile, one of Australia's biggest unions this week accused big supermarket chains in Australia of contributing to the annual road toll.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) federal president Tony Sheldon told ABC News that the tight deadlines imposed on drivers and trucking firms were encouraging truckers to drive unsafely.

"The union is saying very clearly to Coles and the other retailers that [their] practices have to change, that they are literally killing people on our roads because of the economic pressure," he said.

"What happens with Coles and other major retailers with dominating the market at 32 per cent of road transport tasks, is that they say to manufacturers, they say to farmers and they say to transport operators that you've got to do this work the cheapest and the fastest way you possibly can.

"They're price takers, which means the trucking industry either makes the decision to do the work or they don't have a job."

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