Queensland Road Safety Week is here and with a range of efforts and initiatives in the works, the question posed this year is: How is Queensland fairing in the road safety game?

In 2015, the Queensland Government made their first major commitment to safer roads with the ‘Safer Roads, Safer Queensland: Queensland’s Road Safety Strategy 2015-2021’. The ambitious strategy called for all Queenslanders to reject the belief that death or injury is an inherent part of road use and to take responsibility on the road.

To achieve the state’s overall vision towards ZERO fatalities or injuries, concrete goals to reduce the annual fatality to less than 200 and hospitalisation rates to less than 4669 have been put in place.

With only four months left until the new year and the beginning of a new Road Safety Action Plan, where are we currently sitting with the road toll?

At a staggering 171 deaths.

The number represents 23 more fatalities or a 15.5 per cent increase in lives lost when compared to the same period last year, meaning that if we continue along the same trajectory, we may end up working away from zero rather than towards it.

Trends from this year and last’s average suggest that the major causes of such crashes are drink driving, speeding and fatigue.

Currently, almost half of Queensland drivers admit to driving above the speed limit and 550 people are seriously injured from drink driving annually. Each year, a further 50 drivers will be killed due to drink driving, and fatigue will be the cause of approximately 12 per cent of the road toll.

The Queensland Government’s response to this has been to impose new laws and penalties that will deter drivers from committing the fatal five – that is distraction, intoxicated driving, fatigue, speeding and failure to use protective equipment such as helmets or seatbelts.

The new penalties will require mid-range drink drivers to complete Alcohol Ignition Interlock Programs, in combination with Drink Driving Education programs, before regaining their licence. This change will take effect from September 10 onwards. Similarly, mobile detection cameras will be installed across the state to crack down on new offences which will make having a mobile phone in contact with your body while driving (whether switched on or off) illegal.

With $1.4 billion worth of investments, and a $300 million joint fund to upgrade and improve at least 87 roads in Queensland, the delivery of safe roads is clearly a government priority.

However, while this might encourage safer driving for a short period, realistically it won’t be enough to curb the road toll entirely. With only 5 per cent of crashes occurring due to non-human factors, it’s clear that the key to zero, is quite literally in the driver’s hands.

While we will see increased efforts to promote road safety messages across the community this August 16-20 during Queensland Road Safety Week, we must remember that it takes more than just a week to make a true difference.

Make everyday a road safety day by pledging to be a safer road user this Road Safety Week and beyond.

National charity and provider of Traffic Offender Intervention Programs, Road Sense Australia, will be joining in to spread the message of road safety this month. Join them, the QLD Government Street Smart Organisation and other likeminded road users by getting involved online and using the hashtag #QRSW2021.

Supplied by Road Sense Australia

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