Easter weekend results in an increase of car accidents despite social distancing rules

Published 18 Apr 2020

Even though Australians are being encouraged to travel less, governments in South Australia and Victoria are reporting road tolls on pace to match last year's levels. According to ABC News, 2019 was one of the worst years for road fatalities in almost a decade in South Australia, and this year is no different thus far. The same was true in Victoria, The Age reported.

With additional car fatalities occurring over Easter weekend, the road toll this year continues to increase even as traffic dissipates due to social distancing recommendations.

Road toll by the numbers

After additional crashes over the holiday weekend, Southern Australia's road toll increased to 35. This figure is only one fatality short of the road toll at this time last year, which isn't promising for officials who were hoping residents would stay at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

A state over, in Victoria, there have been 18 road fatalities since businesses began encouraging their employees to work from home – one more death than what was recorded at the same time last year. Both states are on pace to meet or exceed the number of car accident deaths with the additional fatality information reported over the holiday.

Why aren't accidents decreasing?

With significantly less drivers on the road due to COVID-19 restrictions, why is the road toll continuing to increase? According to Max Camera, a safety expert at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, less traffic doesn't always correlate with improved safety.

After all, it's ultimately up to drivers to stay safe and follow the rules of the road no matter the traffic conditions. With less congestion on both highways and back roads, there might be less multi-vehicle accidents, but an increase in speeding. There is a direct correlation between driving faster and the severity of a car crash. The World Health Organisation found that an increase in average speed of only 1 km/h increases the chance of a crash resulting in injury by 3% and a 4-5% higher chance of a crash resulting in a fatality. Even with less people on the road, speeding has contributed to the severity of the crashes and subsequent increase of driving fatalities across the country.

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