Road users are urged to take particular care this summer. Christmas is one of the most dangerous times on Australian roads, authorities say – and more people than ever will be driving these holidays.
The Australian Road Safety Foundation launched its annual Christmas awareness campaign at the Gorman Arts Centre on Friday 4 December, to reduce the number of accidents on the roads.
“We’re trying to raise awareness for every single road user – whether they’re a pedestrian or a cyclist, a rider or a driver – to think about the responsibility that comes with being on the road,” ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said.
A four-metre-high Christmas tree was unveiled in the courtyard, with presents commemorating each of the ACT’s road victims for 2020, and baubles symbolising the most common causes of crashes.
Six people have already died on ACT roads this year.
“There are six families who will be feeling pretty bad this Christmas,” Minister for Transport Chris Steel said. “Don’t let this happen to you, or your family, or any other family.”
Mr Steel’s own brother was killed in a bus crash in Bolivia in 2014. “I know what it’s like to sit down at a Christmas dinner table with one less person around the table as the result of a road accident,” he said.
The ‘fatal five’ most common factors of vehicle collisions are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; speeding; not wearing a seatbelt; intersections; and driving while distracted.
End-of-year exhaustion; increased drivers on unfamiliar roads; and a spike in drink and drug driving particularly contribute to car crashes at Christmas.
But this year, the traffic flow will be even heavier, Mr White said. Some people will take long road trips to visit family members they may not have seen for months; others who would have gone overseas will holiday locally instead.
“Road trauma at any time of the year is terribly tragic,” Mr White said. “It’s even worse during a festive season; it would be a very painful annual reminder.”
There will be a greater police presence on the roads this summer, Detective Acting Inspector Ivan Naspe said – enforcing, educating, and making sure users maintain the road rules.
The focus will be on targeting speeders, driver distractions, and people who drive under the influence, he said, while ACT police will work with their NSW colleagues to monitor roads from Canberra to the coast.
Mr White encouraged road users to take a pledge to drive safely:
- Always be fit to drive
- Scan the road ahead
- Know my limits and plan my trip
- Stay sharp and take regular breaks
- Not drive through flooded waters
- Be alert for wildlife and livestock
- Drive to suit the conditions
“We’re asking every single Australian to choose road safety every single day – not just this Christmas period, but 365 days a year,” Mr White said.
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