Researchers predict Scenic Rim could see more road fatalities over the holidays

STAY SAFE: Avoiding the fatal five is especially important over the Christmas period, say researchers. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
STAY SAFE: Avoiding the fatal five is especially important over the Christmas period, say researchers. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

Road crashes during the Christmas season (December 21 to January 10) are 21 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury than crashes that occur over the rest of the year, according to results of a QUT analysis of the state's road crash data from 2015 to 2019.

Senior Sergeant Ken Murray, who is officer in charge at Beaudesert Police Station said the statistics underlined the potential tragedy associated with drink or drug driving.

"Every day, road crashes devastate the lives of Queenslanders and take an enormous toll on families and communities," he said.

"As our COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, the Beaudesert area has seen a sharp increase in people driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

"We are asking you to consciously think about how you drive every day.

"Make road safety the priority for you and your family by separating drinking from driving.

"I am asking you to own your responsibility to drive safely this holiday period."

Researchers from QUT's Accident Research and Road Safety Centre compared crash data from Christmas travel with non-Christmas travel, looking at key contributing factors based on those five years.

CARRS-Q deputy director Dr Mark King said there was no escaping the statistics.

"When you look at the numbers, the Christmas-New Year period is the most dangerous time to be involved in a traffic crash - we have 'worse' crashes," he said.

"This means there's a higher risk that a crash will result in death or serious injury between December 21 and January 10 on Queensland roads than any other time of the year.

"Specifically, our modelling shows a 21 per cent increase in the odds of death or injury over the Christmas period.

"It's been a tough year for many people due to COVID-19, but the pandemic has brought out a sense of community, with the majority of Australians willing to think of others and act responsibly.

"We urge all Queenslanders to think about their behaviour on the roads over the Christmas holidays and use that same sense of responsibility and caution that has been a hallmark of 2020.

"Remember that we all share the roads with others and that our actions affect others.

"COVID has made us stay at home more this year and we've learnt we don't have to drive as much.

"So think about whether you really need to be on the road during some of the busiest days over the holidays.

"CARRS-Q senior research fellow Shamsunnahar Yasmin modelled key variables that contributed to crashes during the Christmas holiday season - and how much the likelihood of crashes, fatalities and serious injuries compared to other times of year.

Crashes involving unlicensed drivers and head-on collisions (which can often be the result of distracted driving or fatigue) top the list.

Other danger areas of increased risk include driving at night and on the weekends.

Compared to the rest of the motoring year, the Christmas season modelling showed:

  • Crashes involving an unlicensed driver are 37 per cent more likely to happen
  • Head-on crashes are 35 per cent more likely to happen
  • Crashes involving a single vehicle are 24 per cent more likely to happen
  • Crashes involving an alcohol or drug-impaired driver are 19 per cent more likely to happen
  • Crashes on weekends are 19 per cent more likely to happen
  • Night-time crashes (6pm to 6am) are 12 per cent more likely to happen

Dr King said driver distraction and driver fatigue contributed to many crashes over Christmas, but both were preventable.

"Mobile phones are now one of the biggest distractions and causes of crashes, so don't touch your phone when you are driving - no matter how short or long the trip is," he said.

"If you are driving long distances, make sure you plan your journey to take regular breaks and avoid driving at night whenever possible."