WestConnex continues with aim to bring road toll down

It was in 2013 when Australia's largest transport project was confirmed. Now, the WestConnex project is well underway, with construction starting in March - two years ahead of schedule - and fleet operators and road authorities alike looking to reap the benefits in the very near future.

WestConnex is a $50 billion investment to make Sydney ready for the future, with a link between the M4 and M5 motorways able to provide free-flowing traffic and bypass as many as 52 traffic lights.

Work on the project is storming ahead, with one notorious bit of road starting 18 months ahead of schedule, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay announced recently.

"With the construction contract awarded, work can now start in a matter of weeks to upgrade one of Sydney's most hated sections of road - King Georges Road Interchange, which will be completed in 2017," said Minister Gay.

"Of the 100,000 motorists that sit on the M5 every day, more than 40,000 get stuck waiting at King Georges Road interchange - the upgrade will cut travel times at this intersection alone by up to 50 per cent."

An additional 1.6 million people are expected to take residence in Sydney by 2020, leading the state and federal governments to team up and complete the entire corridor by 2023, while significant parts of it will be ready much sooner.

The aims of WestConnex

Easing traffic flow is important for businesses, and WestConnex is predicted to be worth more than $20 billion to the NSW economy, as fleet managers see their idle times and all associated costs drop.

Some other benefits that come with this is a lower impact on fleet maintenance, repairs and services, better vehicle fuel consumption, as well as improved fleet safety.

In many ways, fleets in New South Wales are doing well in making their operations safer, for both drivers and pedestrians. The Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) recently announced a fall of 20 per cent in truck deaths across the state between 2013 and 2014.

Such positive news is also seen across the state, with an average 12.2 per cent reduction in fatalities resulting from truck accidents, the ABC reported, and NSW is leading the pack in terms of safety.

Fleet managers urged to improve

However, RMS Director of Safety and Compliance Peter Wells said fleet managers can do more to ensure they remain within the law and their drivers are protected from accident, injury or worse.

"To a certain extent we are very pleased in that there are good trends and results," Mr Wells said. "We are frustrated where some of the larger firms aren't taking this seriously enough to avoid that trouble in the first place."

The ABC pointed to an incident at Sydney's Mona Vale where two people were killed by a truck, resulting in a Melbourne-based company being charged with 67 counts of operating unsafe vehicles.

To avoid these legal issues, authorities believe some fleet managers can do more - and with new infrastructure quickly on the way, it seems they will be supported in doing so.