Australia: More Alcohol, Higher Speed Fuel Bigger Road Toll
More alcohol and higher speed driving on roads fuel bigger road traffic death toll in Australia.
COVID-19 physical distancing measures mean more people are staying at home and working from home and are only on the roads for essential needs. This has lead to a drop in traffic in Australia. However, despite the reduced traffic – or because of it – there are more road traffic injuries and deaths. Experts say it is due to the dangerous combination of driving under the influence of alcohol and higher speeds due to lower traffic.
The roads are less congested and likely there will be higher speeds and that means it will be more likely there will be deaths and serious injury,” said Max Cameron, a road safety expert at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, as per The Age.
Alcohol sales have also gone up, fortunately people are not [driving under the influence] as much but of those who do, they’re probably driving intoxicated to a greater extent and that all contributes to an increase as well.”
Mr. Cameron says for a 70% decrease in traffic only a 50% decrease in road traffic death can be expected.
A recent analysis from location data company HERE Technologies revealed only 1.8% of Melbourne’s major roads were congested, comparative to the 19.8% typical for this time of year. Toll operator Transurban reported a 17% drop in traffic on CityLink in March – a greater fall in traffic than toll roads in NSW and Queensland. By the third week in March, CityLink traffic fell by 21% and by the final week, it had dropped by 43%.
Despite the dramatic drop in road traffic deaths from road accidents have increased. The Transport Accident Commission’s lead director of road safety, Samantha Cockfield, said there had been an increase in road deaths between March 16 and April 6. In Victoria, there have been 18 deaths since the physical distancing measures started which is 1 more than last year same time period. So far in this year 75 people have died in road accidents in the state.
It is everyone’s responsibility to drive safely and reduce the pressure on our health system,” said a government spokeswoman, as per The Age.
At a time where the healthcare system is under pressure, it is imperative that avoidable causes of injury and death are minimized so that the system does not go over capacity and more lives can be saved.