Road deaths rising – even with coronavirus traffic slowdown

Published 08 May 2020

As stay-at-home orders continue across Australia, the number of vehicles on the road has declined sharply. However, perhaps counter intuitively, the number of fatal accidents is on the rise.

In many parts of the country, the risk of deadly crashes is rising despite the decline in traffic on Australia's roads, according to ABC News. One possible reason for this change is that with thinning traffic, some drivers may believe they have more license to exceed the speed limit and otherwise taking more risks behind the wheel, and because of that added speed, their mistakes can be far more deadly.

What the numbers say

Interestingly, it seems that many of these accidents are taking place during the weekend, and during the day, the report said. Some accidents may be attributed not to dangerous driving, but rather dangerous habits like chatting or texting while in motion.

"Even though we're seeing the roads a little bit quieter during peak periods than people are normally expecting, things do occur and this is what we're seeing," RAA senior manager of road safety Charles Mountain told the network. "It just highlights that, irrespective of the conditions, you need to maintain the same level of focus for your journey."

Another major factor

Max Cameron, a road safety expert at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, also notes that alcohol sales across Australia are on the rise despite the current conditions, so while incidents of impaired driving are down, those who do so may be more dangerous to themselves and other motorists, The Age reported. Overall, while traffic may drop by 70 per cent, for example, serious accidents may only decline 50 per cent because of all these adverse conditions.

Despite weeks of staying at home, officials still caution that drivers should still only leave their homes if it is absolutely necessary – such as going to work, getting medical care, buying groceries or other supplies and so on.

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