Lower road toll no comfort to 213 families

Victoria recorded its equal lowest road toll since records began in 2020, but that is of no solace to more than 200 Victorian families who will start the new year without a loved one.

Despite reduced traffic throughout the year due to coronavirus restrictions 213 people still died on Victorian roads. The statistics show that high-risk driver behaviour is continuing to have fatal consequences.

Disappointingly, enforcement agencies reported a spike in high-range speeding during coronavirus restrictions, with drink and drug driving, illegal phone use, fatigue and lack of seatbelts also significant contributors to road trauma last year.

While fatal crashes reduced across the board, regional roads were again overrepresented with 126 lives lost, accounting for more than half of the state’s road deaths, with excessive speed and fatigue major factors in country crashes.

Fatalities were down across every road user group except cyclists, with an increase from 11 deaths in 2019 to 13 cyclists in 2020. Around 68 per cent of drivers and passengers killed on Victorian roads last year were in vehicles that were more than 10 years old.

Recently launched, the government's new Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 focuses on delivering solutions to the major contributing factors to road trauma, as well as proactively making our roads safer for those where their workplace is the road, and our more vulnerable road users.

The strategy will develop programs to stop drink drivers in their tracks and prevent reoffending, getting young and older drivers into safer cars and deploying innovative high-tech cameras across Victoria to hold distracted drivers to account.

Stronger enforcement may not be popular, but it is effective. Enforcement is one of the strongest tools to influence driver behaviour, aand while too many Victorians are still dying on the roads, enforcement of risky behaviours remains vital.

The strategy's mission is to halve road deaths by 2030, building on initiatives like road infrastructure upgrades that have proven effective at reducing road trauma on some of our highest-risk regional roads.

Every Victorian has a role to play in driving down road trauma. Without the support of everyone making safe choices – whether on two wheels or four, on a bike or walking across the road – we will continue to see hundreds of families shattered by road deaths each year.