“2022 is shaping up to be the worst in terms of road deaths in more than a decade,” says Dr Li Hsee, chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ (RACS) AoNZ Trauma Subcommittee.
There have been 356 road deaths in AoNZ this year to 15 December; on a par with 2018 which, along with 2017, was the worst year since 2009. Eleven people have lost their lives on the roads this month already and the peak holiday period doesn’t begin until 4pm on 23 December.
This is despite a government campaign which aims to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 40% between 2018 and 2030, with an ultimate vision of getting numbers down to zero. Road to Zero measures include reducing speed limits on some roads, lifting minimum safety standards for vehicles and developing a regulatory framework for commercial transport.
The picture is just as gloomy over the Tasman where road deaths have increased by 7.4 per cent compared to this time last year.
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 RACS 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.”
“Every road death has a huge impact on families and communities”, says Dr Hsee.
“Likewise serious injuries have severe consequences which can last a lifetime. We need to do better and drivers, the ball is in our court.”
Dr Hsee says there are three simple rules to keep front of mind whenever you get behind the wheel.
1. Don’t drive if you’re tired. Take a break or switch places with another driver.
2. Stick to the speed limit and drive to the conditions.
3. Don’t get distracted, either by your mobile phone or by intoxicants that impair your judgement and concentration.