There’s no denying the fact that distracted drivers and those that break the road rules cause major issues on our roads. During April 2020, despite seeing less cars on the road, there was an alarming number of fatal accidents on Australian roads. The latest commentary from various driving bodies and official statistics has revealed that in some states - even while full pandemic lockdown restrictions were in place - incidents on our roads were still high. There is speculation that this is due to some motorists taking bigger risks than usual on the road.
According to the Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, there was a drop in fatalities in April 2020 in some states – but the number of deaths on the roads remains too high. We lost 75 lives on the road in April 2020, and although this was a 23.5% improvement on the previous year, there were far less cars on the road due to pandemic restrictions.
Table source: Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics report
Although, the amount of congestion decreased dramatically across all major roads around Australia due to the strict restrictions on non-essential travel, there were reports of riskier behaviour on the roads. We look at trends in each state:
Queensland was the only state to record an increase in deaths on the roads in April 2020 compared to the same time last year. Sadly, during this period Queensland Police noted an increase in risky behaviours like speeding and a high number of people not wearing seatbelts whilst traveling in vehicles.
Although Victoria saw a drop in road fatalities in April 2020 compared to the same period last year, there was still a relatively high number of deaths on the road; considering there should have been a lot less vehicles on the roads due to Covid-19 restrictions. During this time there was a similar increase to Queensland for speeding fines.
New South Wales was nearly on par with April 2019’s fatality rates with only 3 less deaths in April 2020. One notable difference for Sydney drivers was the drastic reduction in congestion on the roads due to coronavirus lockdowns.
Western Australia recorded half the number of fatalities on the roads in April 2020 compared the same time last year. Even though there would have been significantly lower traffic volumes, and less people travelling long distances due to coronavirus lockdowns, any death on the road is one too many.
These trends and findings were also mirrored in a recent report commissioned by the Australian Road Safety Foundation. The report found one in four respondents said they had taken more risks, including using mobile phones (up 9%), running red lights or a stop sign (up 5%) and driving after a few drinks.
Everyone on the roads is responsible for safety
Now that Australia is returning to somewhat normal circumstances and we are allowed to jump back into our cars, it’s important to remember and adhere to the road rules. These laws are in place to ensure everyone gets to return home safely. Speeding and mobile phone use are dangerous behaviours and contribute to crashes on a daily basis. Brush up on your road safety skills by taking our quiz, based on the learner driver test, to see if you would still pass.
Be honest with yourself: how well do you remember the road rules now? Could you pass a driving test today?
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Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 17, 2020.