Bundaberg Regional Council, QPS, QFES AND QAS are imploring Bundaberg region residents to demonstrate their commitment to saving lives by taking the Fatality Free Friday pledge online and sharing in the Australian Road Safety Foundation’s (ARSF) road trauma tribute.
Set to be unveiled on Fatality Free Friday this Friday, 29 May, the tribute will remember the 1,195 lives tragically lost on Australian roads last year with a collection of stories and safety messages from everyday people, frontline workers and those touched by road trauma.
With lower traffic volumes and congestion across the country, Australians are taking extra risks on the roads, which the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) is hoping to curb ahead of Fatality Free Friday (29 May).
To drive home the Fatality Free Friday message in the lead up, the ARSF has released its annual research report, which shows one in four drivers admit to taking increased road risks since the implementation of Covid-19 lockdowns.
This is a frightening statistic, likely driven by the fact that two thirds of Australians believe the roads are safer under current conditions.
While it is expected that the road toll would reflect the lower volumes of traffic on the road, the national year-to-date road toll has only declined by 12.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.
For example, the alarming research confirmed that speeding is already the most common road rule broken, with two in three Australian drivers admitting to being heavy footed. Now in Covid-19 lockdown conditions, this dangerous driving act has increased by 17 per cent.
What’s more, the most common risks being taken during Covid-19 after speeding include using a mobile phone behind the wheel (9% higher), running a red light or stop sign (5% increase), or driving after a few drinks (3% spike).
ARSF founder and CEO Russell White warned there is never an excuse to be taking risks on or around the roads.
“Sadly, with fewer cars on the roads during coronavirus, we’re seeing an increase in bad driver behaviour, which is unacceptable,” Mr White said.
“Road trauma at any time is tragic, but it’s also largely preventable. While our incredible frontline medical and emergency services are already working harder than ever, is that text message or few extra minutes worth adding extra pressure on these resources?”
“For every road death, another 35 Australians are hospitalised. Don't let a split second decision change your or someone else's life forever.”
As one of the country’s largest insurers and ARSF’s founding partner, Suncorp Insurance has seen first-hand the life-changing impacts of reckless driving.
“People may believe getting behind the wheel is safer at the moment with less cars on the road, but our claims research from 2015 – 2019 shows approximately 30% of accidents occur in the driver’s own postcode. Even a short trip to the shops can be disastrous so drivers must not become complacent,” Suncorp Insurance CEO Gary Dransfield said.
Shockingly, the research revealed that only seven per cent of drivers think about the safety of other road users when behind the wheel.
In addition, four in five Australians admit to breaking a road law, with the most common excuses including not paying attention (39%), a brief lapse in judgement (30%), or simply believing it was ‘safe’ to do so (20%).
Distraction also continues to be a common safety issue in the car. In fact, more than half of drivers admit to eating while driving, one third admit to using their mobile phone, and one quarter admit to looking away from the road at GPS or music for more than two seconds, which doubles the chance of a crash.
The research has been released as the ARSF calls on individuals to #ChooseRoadSafety and demonstrate their commitment to reducing the road toll by taking the Fatality Free Friday pledge online.
In memory of the 1,195 people who tragically lost their lives on Australian roads last year, the ARSF is also creating a digital mosaic artwork that will feature 1,195 images of everyday people including families of road trauma victims, first responders, community road safety advocates and those directly affected by road trauma.
Road users can take the Fatality Free Friday pledge online at arsf.com.au/take-the-pledge-fff
 Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of the Australian Road Safety Foundation, April 2020, n=1,005 nationally representative by gender, age and location of Australian drivers aged 18 years and over.
 The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), https://www.bitre.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/rda_mar_2020.pdf (accessed 31 March 2020).
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