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Queensland Dodges Road Deaths in Christmas Miracle

2 minute read

In 2021, Queensland saw a staggering 275 lives lost. Despite COVID-19 lockdowns and interstate roads being shut down during parts of the year, the state was on track to record its highest number of road deaths in the past five years.

From January to December 19th, the number of road deaths was 12.6% greater than the previous five-year average. But with the Christmas holiday period recording zero road fatalities, countering predictions it would soar, there was actually a 1.1% decrease in road fatalities.

Although it is worth commending this slight decrease, we must remember that each life lost on the road is not merely a statistic but someone’s colleague, friend and family member. Every single life lost on our roads is one too many.

The Good*

The number of pedestrian fatalities decreased greatly in 2021 with over a 40% difference from the previous year. Driver fatalities also saw a slight 7.1% decrease from the same period in the previous year.

During the X-mas period (23-28 December), the state saw zero fatalities which helped bring down the total number of road deaths in 2021.

The Bad*

However, the number of fatalities of all other types of road users increased. Passenger fatalities increased by 31.9% bringing the number of passenger deaths to 62. Motorcycle and bicycle fatalities (including pillions) also saw an increase of 22.6% and 14.3% respectively.

Data shows that of the fatalities that occurred in the first seven months of 2021, speeding contributed to over 1 in 4 road deaths. Fatalities linked to drink driving was also nearly as common as speeding. The Five Fatal Factors (excluding seatbelt misuse) contributed to the following percentage of road crashes:

  • Speeding: 26.3%
  • Drink driving: 23.4%
  • Fatigue: 15%
  • Distraction or Inattention: 8.4%

In the first six months of 2021, there were 3930 hospitalised casualties. This was a 32.8% increase from the same period in 2020 and 730 more than the previous five-year average for the same period.

What were the reasons for hospitalisations resulting from crashes during this period?

Again, drink driving (398 hospitalisations), fatigue (259 hospitalisations) and speeding (216 hospitalisations) were among the usual suspects. By a huge gap though, the most common cause of serious injury – resulting in the hospitalisation of 811 Queenslanders – was distraction or inattention.

Distraction and illegal mobile phone use has emerged as a serious issue on Queensland roads. New mobile phone cameras were rolled out in mid-2021 (watch here) to catch out distracted drivers and in just under three weeks, over 1500 Queenslanders were caught.

Another key area of concern is seatbelt misuse. In Queensland, 7% of the population drive without wearing a seatbelt. On average, 31 of the Queenslanders killed and 166 of those seriously injured in a year are not wearing a seatbelt or appropriate restraint (such as child restraints) properly.

Despite the adoption of Vision Zero – the universal goal to reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries until no lives are lost on our roads – we are far from zero.

Some people say this is an unrealistic target but if Queensland can get through Christmas without a single road death, who’s to say what’s possible?


*Data from Jan-Dec 19 2021

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