National road toll reaches 58

FOUR people were lucky to escape serious injury when two vehicles crashed head-on on the Pacific Highway at Urunga.

The crash happened just after noon on Monday when an English tourist driving north lost control of his Honda CRV and crossed onto the wrong side of the highway into the path of a Ford Falcon being driven by a Urunga man.

Both drivers were taken by ambulance to Coffs Harbour Health Campus, while one passenger from each vehicle was treated at the scene.

Meanwhile, the national holiday road toll reached 58 yesterday with a double fatality in central western NSW, the death of a toddler in Queensland and a fatality following a motorcycle accident in South Australia.

A 13-year-old boy and a 45-year-old woman were killed after stopping to help the occupants of another car which had broken down near Mendooran, 40km north of Dubbo, about 2.30am yesterday.

The woman had pulled her four-wheel-drive over on the side of the road when a truck coming the other way smashed into the vehicle, police said.

Their deaths bring the NSW toll to 11.

The death of a one-year-old boy in a crash west of Brisbane early yesterday took the Queensland holiday road toll to 14.

The toddler died instantly and his mother, brother and sister suffered head injuries when their car ran off the road at Drayton, near Toowoomba, and hit a tree.

The New South Wales road toll for 2005 is expected to be the lowest in 60 years.

Roads Minister Joe Tripodi said the State's provisional toll for 2005 was 516, six fewer deaths than the provisional figure for 2004.

The 2004 provisional total of 522 was lowered to 510 after the coroner determined 12 fatalities were not road related.

About 12 deaths each year are removed from the provisional road toll, meaning the 2005 figure could finish about 504.

Mr Tripodi said the toll was declining despite a massive increase in the number of vehicles on the road.

The highest road toll was recorded in 1978 when 1384 people died in NSW.

The final toll for 2005 seems set to be the lowest since 1945 when it was 411.

Since 1945, the State's population has more than doubled and the number of vehicles on the roads has increased 11 times.

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