Road fatalities in Queensland likely to rise – new measures needed
Driver distraction and mobile phone use is set to cause a 17 per cent increase in Queensland road fatalities between now and 2030, prompting calls for new countermeasures to stop driver distraction and strengthen road safety.
The data – just released by the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities – predicts nearly 290 Queenslanders will die in road crashes each year by 2030 if no action is taken, an increase from 247 deaths in 2017.
In terms of the overall percentage increase, Queensland is forecast to experience the third highest fatality increase of all Australian states, just behind Western Australia and the Northern Territory, where traffic growth is expected to be greater than the rest of Australia.
Bicycle Queensland CEO Anne Savage said the data was alarming.
“Urgent action is needed to end the rising death toll caused by driver distraction and mobile phone use,” she said.
“Over the past two decades we have seen an impressive reduction in road fatalities thanks to a strong focus on seat belts, speed cameras, random breath testing, drug testing, and improvements in vehicle design and transport infrastructure.
“This report suggests that without new measures such as lower speed limits, radical new safety technologies, and camera monitoring of mobile phone use, the death toll will once again start to rise, setting us back in our work towards Target Zero to eliminate deaths and injuries from road crashes.
“27 road fatalities were caused by driver distraction in 2017 and 75 per cent of Queensland drivers admit to using mobile phones while driving – this simply must be stopped.”
Passengers, pedestrians, and bike riders combined accounted for 43 per cent of deaths on Australian roads since 1989 – almost equal to driver deaths, which make up 45 per cent of crash fatalities.
“Of particular concern to Bicycle Queensland, serious injury crashes among cyclists have been increasing by about eight per cent every year and are higher today than they were five or ten years ago – despite our success in reducing driver and passenger fatalities,” Ms Savage said.
“Alarmingly, cyclists are overrepresented in casualty counts, making up about three per cent of all road fatalities and 15 per cent of all road hospitalisations, with the vulnerable road user group accounting for 38 per cent of the overall road toll in Queensland last year.
“Joint efforts are needed to examine new ways of preventing all deaths on our roads, including the Queensland Government’s consideration of Bicycle Queensland’s call for a Road Safety and Healthy Travel Commission.”
Analysis of road crashes reported to the police has found nearly 800 cyclists are injured on Queensland roads each year, costing the economy over $220 million annually.
“Without concerted investment to improve on-road bike lanes and build new separated cycleways, this trend will be hard to arrest,” Ms Savage said.
“Separated cycleways protect vulnerable road users and eliminate risks of collisions involving motor vehicles – giving riders and drivers greater peace of mind.
“Our goal is zero deaths on our roads and zero tolerance for dangerous and distracted driving and riders who disobey the law.”
Ms Savage said Bicycle Queensland was committed to working with all levels of government and the community to improve road safety.
“In Brisbane’s CBD, lowering of the speed limit from 50km/hr to 40km/hr in 2009 effectively reduced the severity of road crash injuries for cyclists, bringing the average cost down by $30,000 per crash, from about $250k to $220k,” Ms Savage said.
“This strongly backs up the international evidence that lowering speed limits saves lives.”
Read the report here.