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2 minute read

National road fatality data shows that December has consistently been the worst time of the year for road trauma. With countless families affected during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, we must remember that the aftermath of road trauma is painful and everlasting.

Contributing to over 90% of fatal crashes, speeding, drink and drug driving, fatigue, seatbelt/helmet misuse and distraction make up the Five Fatal Factors. These crash factors do not vary greatly between holiday and non-holidays periods.

However, there are different circumstances and crash risk factors during the holidays. Crashes caused by intoxicated driving, fatigue and seatbelt misuse – three of the Five Fatal Factors – increase during holiday periods.

This can be linked to a decrease in work-related travel and an increase in private travel. There are also increased family gatherings and celebrations meaning more long-distance travel, usually on unfamiliar roads, as well as more drinking. Alcohol and intoxication also lead to increased risk-taking behaviours.

Single vehicle crashes and crashes occurring on roads with speeds of 100km/h and above also see a rise during the holidays. While the majority of vehicle crashes in rural areas still involve locals, there is an increase in fatal crashes involving metropolitan drivers in rural areas when compared to non-holiday periods.

Drivers who are used to driving on city roads are travelling in rural and regional areas, but they are not used to long trips and the different driving conditions on country roads.

In contrast, there are a lower number of heavy trucks involved in fatal crashes – likely due to the decrease in work-related travel. Moreover, while there is a higher proportion of driver and passenger deaths during December, there are fewer cyclist, pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities.

Ultimately, there is a ‘re-balancing’ of risk factors during holiday periods making it dangerous for road users, especially drivers and passengers.

Some tips to ensure you and your loved ones arrive safely during this festive season:

  • Avoid driving intoxicated by having a plan B
  • Get enough rest between trips so you don’t drive tired
  • Plan out and check your route beforehand
  • Stay calm and assess your options if you come into an unexpected situation, like a roadblock
  • Have patience and remember that everyone on the road, like you, wants to spend precious time with their families
  • Always adhere to road rules – don’t speed, put distractions away and always wear your seatbelt or helmet.

Road safety is a community effort and there’s no better time to come together as a community than now. No family should have to experience the loss of a loved one, especially during Christmas.

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