As the Queensland school holidays got underway from Friday, traffic authorities have been expressing concern at the sudden spike in road deaths in the state.
This is despite the prolonger lockdown that has left fewer vehicles on Queensland’s roads than in previous years – when death tolls were lower.
So far this year, road deaths are a significant 20% higher than at the same time last year, which has law enforcement officers and state officials worried.
Five more deaths have occurred in recent days
Five more deaths in recent days take the 2020 figure to 116 deaths, 18 more than at the same time in 2019.
Speaking to AAP, Superintendent David Johnson of the Road Policing Command said speed had been a major issue. Driving under the influence of drink and drugs was also extremely concerning.
He said that since police restarted Roadside Breath Testing not long ago, there had been an “alarming number” of positive drugs tests. Queensland police are now finding that one in three drivers have suspected illegal substances in their system.
Slowing down at roadworks is also important
Authorities are also targeting slowing down at roadworks as being important, particularly with the large number of road construction projects now underway in the state.
The Bruce Highway and M1 are notable routes where major projects are happening, Mark Bailey, the Minister for Transport and Main Roads, said.
More than 1 100 road deaths in last 12 months
According to the Australian Road Deaths Database, there have been 1 135 deaths on the nation’s roads in the 12 months to April 2020.
Of those, 745 were in vehicles, 186 were motorcyclists, 156 were pedestrians and 45 were cyclists.
More people died last year on roads than in 2018
Last year, close to 1 200 people died on Australian roads – more than in 2018, but far fewer than in 2016, when close to 1 300 deaths were recorded. The record high was 1 603 road deaths recorded in 2007.
Last year Victoria had the highest increase on a state-by-state basis. A total of 263 lives were lost, 50 more than in 2018. The 2019 figure was the highest it’s been in three years in Victoria.