Sunshine Coast road users are more likely to suffer severe injuries in a car crash compared to Brisbane and a leading compensation lawyer Travis Schultz sees firsthand the suffering it can cause.
According to the Motor Accident Insurance Commission annual report 2018-2019, there were 2,200 injuries sustained in car accidents on the Sunshine Coast between July 2014 and June 2019, with 8.3 per cent of these crashes causing serious injury or worse.
The principal lawyer at Travis Schultz Law said the statistics are a cause for concern for all Sunshine Coast road users and emphasised how speed and fatigue are often significant factors.
“Unfortunately in my work I see how injuries from car accidents can irreversibly change someone’s life, whether it’s restricting their movement, causing chronic pain or ending a career, the aftermath of crashes continue well after the clean-up,” Mr Schultz said.
“I think it is important people are reminded of the heartbreak during the holidays, and as we step into the New Year we all need to make a conscious effort to change our attitudes towards driving.
“Far too often drivers become complacent with the fatal five – speed, alcohol, fatigue, inattention and seatbelts – destroying lives.”
In 2019 there were more than 200 fatalities on Queensland roads and nearly 2,000 crashes which led to hospitalisation.
University of the Sunshine Coast’s Dr Bridie Scott-Parker is undertaking essential research into changing driver behaviour – with a particular focus on young drivers.
“Mum and Dad, Nan and Pop play such an important role in the road safety of young drivers,” Dr Scott-Parker said.
“Parents usually provide the most driving supervision during the Learner licence phase, but may not realise that – long before their teen gets behind the wheel – they provide a driver ‘model’ throughout their child’s life. If you are a risky driver, your child is more likely to be a risky driver, as this is the driving behaviour they know and the driving behaviour they will copy.”
“One simple step to improve young driver road safety is to stay involved in your teen’s driving – share the family car when they get their red P, check in with who is in what car, when, where are they going and when will they be home. Set clear driving guidelines, and if these aren’t met (eg, they speed), consequences will help improve the young driver’s behaviour.”
Road safety isn’t just about young drivers and Dr Scott-Parker encourages everyone who uses the road – no matter if they are a passenger or a pedestrian – to think about where they can go and what they can do if everything goes wrong.
“For example, if you are crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing and the driver hasn’t seen you, be ready to step backwards to stay safe,” Dr Scott Parker said.
“Holidays see many more vehicles on the road, and on the Sunshine Coast in particular we have many visitors who may not be familiar with our roads and who may be distracted. Passengers can help the driver in these situations by identifying hazards in front, to the side, and behind. As a co-driver, don’t assume the driver has seen the distracted driver in the neighboring car – speak up for safety.”
Dr Scott-Parker leads USC’s Adolescent Risk Research Unit (ARRU) and also leads the international research and intervention group, the Consortium of Adolescent Road Safety (CADROSA).
Mr Schultz said the Sunshine Coast can benefit from the research that is going into road safety but stressed the need for people to remain focused when they get into the car these holidays.
“Remember it’s not just your life that you will impact if you have a crash, it’s the person driving towards you, it is family, friends and the greater community – let’s make sure you are not just another statistic,” Mr Schultz said.