Every day we depend on roadways to connect us to the people we love and things we do. We trust these roadways to keep our supply chains running and to get us home safely. Yet, at times, people do get injured.
The overall number of fatalities and serious injuries on Australian roads have decreased in the past decade, but any death is one too many.
At Zaparas Lawyers, we see the impacts of road trauma every day, and we understand how unexpected and traumatic road and transport accidents can be. That’s why, as well as advocating on behalf of road accident victims, we’re also focused on road safety awareness and education.
National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative that aims to highlight the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it. It is an initiative of Safer Australian Highways and Roads Group (SARAH) which was established by President Peter Frazer following the death of his 23-year-old daughter, Sarah, who was killed in a road crash on the Hume Highway in 2012. Each year National Road Safety Week asks road users to make a pledge to use the road with others’ safety in mind. Have you taken the pledge so others survive?
Australia’s road death statistics
Each day, about three people are killed on our roads, while hundreds of others are severely injured. To put this into perspective, 1,200 people lose their lives each year, and nearly 44,000 are seriously injured or left fighting for their lives. Traffic injury is also the biggest killer of Australian children under 15 and the second-biggest killer of all Australians aged between 15 and 24.
There’s been a 21 per cent overall improvement in the national road toll from the baseline figures in 2010 – driver, passenger and pedestrian deaths have all gone down. However, instances of cyclist and motorcyclist deaths have increased.
These deaths and injuries alone are estimated to cost our country $30 billion annually.
In the 12 months to December 2021, there were 1127 road deaths across Australia. And during the 12 months leading up to March 2022, there were 1138 deaths. According to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics, this reflects an increase of 2.7 per cent, compared to the same previous period, and equals more deaths than the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 target.
These statistics are very distressing. It’s important to remember the impact of road trauma goes beyond just the victims and extends to the family, friends and emergency personnel and healthcare staff. Unsafe driving and unsafe vehicles are never worth the impact it can have on someone’s life. We have to share the road safely.
With about 20 million registered vehicles in Australia, it’s as important as ever to remain alert and aware on the road. As we see with the country’s road death statistics, road trauma is at epidemic proportions. When driving, slow down and look out for pedestrians. Give cyclists and motorcyclists the space needed to be safe. Slow down and protect those who protect and assist us. Be alert and drive to the conditions.
Car safety checklist
It’s always important to keep your car fit and healthy for the road. The Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland has some great tips for regular car maintenance. At a minimum, before a road trip, you should check your:
- Dashboard for warning lights
- Car battery life
- Engine’s cooling system
- Tyres and wheel alignment
- Signs of worn breaks
- Steering and suspension
- Blinkers and lights
- Transmission, clutch and CV joints
- Seatbelts and windscreen wipers
And when looking to purchase a new car, we all have our opinions on what we want, but it’s important to not compromise on safety. According to the QLD StreetSmarts Initiative you should:
- Go for a newer model where possible
- Pick a bright colour
- Look at getting electronic stability control
- Ensure it has curtain side-airbags
If you’re unfortunate enough to be injured in a car accident or injured in a transport accident, you may be eligible to lodge a claim for compensation. The laws are different for each state, so we recommend seeking legal advice.