With the festive season upon us, it is important to remind ourselves about road safety. This time of year generally means there are more people on the road. People are out doing last minute Christmas shopping, attending festive functions or heading off on that much needed holiday to visit friends and family. Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Paralegal, Sally Marshall gives her top ten tips to stay safe on the roads this Summer.
The Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF), the peak industry group for the Tourism, Transport and Aviation sectors, conducted a national survey which showed that road trips emerged as the most popular option for travel over flights and other modes of transport this Christmas season.
With the Queensland borders opening on 1 December 2020, there is expected to be an influx of drivers heading into Queensland with people driving from interstate to see their family and friends who they haven’t seen since at least March this year. The recent closure of borders to Sydney residents will no doubt impact on the travel plans of many, but it is still expected to be a busier than usual time for traffic on our roads this festive season with international travel banned and domestic flights struggling to cope with demand.
With more people and cars on the road, there is a higher chance of traffic accidents. Not only are there more people on the road but summer is also our storm season which increases the odds of a traffic accident occurring due to wet roads, poor visibility, and flooding.
Road Safety Statistics
Over the 12-day Christmas/New Year period in 2018-2019 there were 42 fatalities on Australian roads. 13 of these occurred in Queensland which was 7 more than the prior five-year average. Additionally, 182 people were hospitalised from accidents in Queensland during the same period.
To reduce the risk of a traffic accident you should avoid the five fatal offences as identified by the Queensland Police:
- Speeding (speeding accounted for 20.4% of road fatalities in 2018);
- Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication (driving under the influence accounted for 48.2% of the road toll in 2018);
- Not wearing a seatbelt;
- Driving while fatigued (13.1% of fatalities in 2018);
- Driving while distracted (11.4% of fatalities in 2018).
The above statistics are for Queensland only.
Top tips for staying safe on the road this Summer
1) Maintain your vehicle – check that your tyres, lights, breaks and windscreen wipers are in good working order before getting on the road. RACQ provides a handy car checklist to help you make sure your car is safe before you head off on your next adventure. Click here to see the checklist. If you are not sure about the condition of your car, book in with your local mechanic for a service before hitting the road.
2) Plan ahead and don’t rush –give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Make sure to account for heavy traffic and rest stops. Check the weather, if a severe storm is predicted, try to delay your journey until the storm has passed. Always drive to the weather conditions, if it’s raining slow down and turn your lights on. It is better to arrive late, rather than never!
3) Rest – fatigue is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. If you are going on a long road trip, make sure to have a good night’s sleep and take regular breaks along the way. Where possible travel with another driver and take turns in driving to reduce the risk of fatigue. If you feel yourself getting drowsy, pull over where it is safe to do so. The Queensland government has developed a map which covers all driver reviver locations, you can check it out by clicking here.
4) Take caution – If you must pull over in an emergency, make sure it’s safe to do so. Put your hazard lights on immediately and stay off the road.
5) Keep left unless overtaking – this will help prevent road rage, tailgating and decrease your chances of being rear-ended.
6) Don’t drink and drive – Christmas is a great excuse to overindulge in food and drink. Always plan ahead when going to an event where alcohol will be served. There is no excuse for drink driving when ride-share services such as Uber and Taxi Services are only one click away. Download the app of your choice before you leave home so it’s easy for you to access when you are ready to leave your event.
7) Avoid distractions –Don’t use your phone to text, change music or set up your navigation system. If you cannot resist the temptation to check your phone while driving, put it in your glovebox or boot.
8) Obey the law – Do not partake in risky behaviour such as speeding, tailgating, or being discourteous to other drivers. Road rules are made for your protection. Wear your seatbelt, follow the speed limit and stop and give way as signed.
9) Secure your load – Loose items cause serious and deadly accidents every year. Take a few extra minutes to make sure everything is secured before setting off. Drivers who fail to secure their load are usually found liable in negligence for the injuries or death caused to others. Traffic infringements and criminal penalties can also apply.
10) Be aware of other drivers – although you may be doing the right thing and driving safely, that doesn’t mean everyone else is. If you see another car swerving, tailgating, not using their indicators, etc. avoid them as best you can.
By keeping safety front of mind and following these tips, you can reduce your risk of being in a car accident. The 2020 road toll in Queensland has already been high. Please take care on the roads and enjoy your holidays so that everyone can stay safe and enjoy the festive season.