As we look to recognise World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, this Sunday, 20 November, I’d like to urge motorist to put safety first as I share below some the latest data from the Department of Transport and Main Roads which reveals 249 people have died as a result of a car crash on our state’s roads to date this year. This worrying number is five more than for the same time last year, and 31 greater than the previous five-year average for the same period.
As we prepare to pay our respects for these and all victims of traffic incidents, it’s incredibly concerning to see that Queensland is on track to have its worst annual road toll in more than a decade. In addition, the figures for North Queensland are particularly concerning, with the region currently contributing almost 40 per cent of the state’s total fatal motor vehicle accidents.
It’s difficult to know why there has been such an increase, however research from the Australia Road Safety Foundation indicates it’s likely that the impact of Covid lockdowns and border closures for nearly two years may have resulted in drivers becoming complacent on our roads.
While many injuries are caused by speeding and drink driving, distraction when driving is now one of the leading causes for motor vehicle accidents accounting for 30 to 40 per cent of all serious and fatal crashes on Australian roads.
As the state’s road toll continues to climb, we see the consequences of carelessness on Queensland roads, with our firm opening numerous motor vehicle injury related claims every week.
While there was a drop in Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claims during Covid and the various associated lockdowns, since restrictions have been lifted, we have seen an increase in the number of CTP claims across the Cairns region to higher than they were before Covid.
For more than a decade I have been assisting people who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents on roads within the Cairns region and while many of these accidents occur at low speed in built-up areas, the accidents that occur on the various ranges and highways within the region account for the most serious injuries and fatalities.
When put under the microscope, data from the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) revealed Townsville region accounted for 531 CTP claims while Cairns, with a population significantly less than its southern counterpart, accounted for 631.
It is hard to say exactly why we have more accidents in Cairns over Townsville however, data tells us that one of the major contributors to motor vehicle accidents is road condition and you don’t have to travel too far outside of the Cairns CBD to end up on roads that are narrow, unsealed or in poor condition. The Cairns region is vast and covers some 1,687 square kilometres. Many of the roads within our regions are country roads that lack safety barricades, are lined with trees and don’t have the safety features of roads within built-up metropolitan areas. These figures serve as a timely reminder to be more vigilant when getting behind the wheel.
I have spent more than a decade working with victims of motor vehicle accidents and I have seen first-hand that the impact for these victims goes far beyond the physical injuries. Too often, victims of road accidents are left with devastating — and often permanent — injuries. There is a toll taken on their employment, financial security, relationships and mental health. The journey to rebuild their lives after an accident can be very long and difficult.
I would encourage all road users to use this International Day of Remembrance to reflect on their driving habits and avoid taking risks that could cost them or another person their lives. Take care on our roads, drive to the conditions and avoid distractions.
Learn more about Word Day of Remembrance here.
Partner & Cairns Leader
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