COVID might be making the daily commute faster, but still no excuse to speed

Roads Australia is backing calls for Queensland road users to slowdown and stick to the rules in the face of a spike in fatalities.

So far this year there have been 67 fatalities on Queensland roads compared to 58 for the same period last year. This is despite the fact that traffic volumes are down more than 30 per cent, largely because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Queensland’s latest stats buck both the national trend and the individual figures for NSW and Victoria.

At the end of March, the national toll stood at 286 – down 12.5 per cent on the same three-month period in 2019. In Victoria, the year-to-date toll is currently 17.3 per cent lower than for the same period last year, and in NSW 30 per cent lower.

Roads Australia CEO Michael Kilgariff has backed last week’s call by Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey for road users to show the same caution on the State’s roads as they are in dealing with the COVID pandemic.

“With fewer cars on the road because of stay-at-home restrictions, police and emergency service personnel would have been hoping for a commensurate reduction in accidents, injuries and fatalities,” Mr Kilgariff said.

“Instead, the reports out of Queensland point to an increase in risky behaviours like speeding. It’s also unfathomable that we are still seeing not-wearing-of-seatbelts showing up in accident statistics.”

Mr Kilgariff said the deaths last week of four police officers on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway underlined the particular risks taken by police and emergency services personnel and road workers in live traffic situations.

“Around Australia, the road industry is getting on with the job of building and maintaining roads as an essential service to the community,” he said.

“Accurate data on roadwork crashes in Australia is lacking, but it’s estimated that each year at least 50 deaths and 750 injuries occur to workers and the public in road worksite crashes, at a cost of more than $400 million. In any other workplace, those figures would be completely unacceptable.

“We’re talking about people who are out there day and night in all sorts of weather, building bridges and roads, filling potholes and resealing pavements, installing safety barriers, clearing culverts and saving lives.

“The message is simple – no matter how light the traffic or the time of day, if you are passing a worksite, a broken-down vehicle or police or ambulance on the side of the road, be alert and slow down.”

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