The increase occurred despite a bipartisan commitment from political parties under the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 to halve the rate of deaths and serious injuries on Australia’s roads by the end of the decade.

“We failed dismally to meet the conservative targets set under the 2011-2020 National Road Safety Strategy, and we are going to fail again unless we see some serious leadership from our Government,” said Dr John Crozier, Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee.

“In fact, not only are we not meeting our commitments, but we are going backwards. The increase in fatalities on Australia’s roads occurred in most states and territories. Even in states where we saw reductions, such as Queensland, it is hardly anything to be celebrate given the reduction was minimal, and in the knowledge that they are coming off of two of their worst years for road deaths in decades.

“In the past year alone 1192 people have died in road crashes and another 39,404 people have been admitted to hospital with serious injuries. That is the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized country town, killed or seriously injured in 2022, to add to the same population of people we lost last year, and in fact every year in living memory.

“It is a national epidemic. Until we treat it as such, tragically we will likely see just as many people killed or seriously injured again next year.”

Dr Crozier said he feared with movement less incumbered this year thanks to the easing of covid restrictions, the festive season presented an opportune time to travel, but also a danger period for road users.

“The last couple of Christmases have been impacted quite significantly by Covid-19. This year people are wanting to take the opportunity to travel over the holiday period, particularly to visit family and friends. 

“While this desire is perfectly understandable, and we don’t wish to discourage it, as surgeons we see the carnage from road crashes every day. We know from experience that this is one of the most dangerous times of year to be on our roads. 

“In particular, speeding, driving distracted, driving fatigued, or driving drug or alcohol affected contribute to the frequent seasonal spike of preventable injury from road crashes. 

“We have a Government in Australia that is only seven months old and as we approach 2023, I am hopeful that we can draw a line and recalibrate. We must do better. The greatest gift that we can all give ourselves and our loved ones this Christmas is to take care on our roads and commit to zero fatalities in 2023.”

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