IT’S cold comfort to the families of the 211 people who lost their lives on Victorian roads in 2020 but following a revision of information by the Road Fatality Review Panel, numbers have been revised down by two this week.

Instead of the provisional figure of 213 announced earlier in January, equal to the lowest since records began, the number is now officially 211 for 2020, following on from 266 in 2019.

At the time of the original announcement, Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll reiterate the government’s commitment to tackling road trauma.

Despite reduced traffic throughout the year due to coronavirus restrictions 211 people still died on Victorian roads – and the statistics show poor, high-risk driver behaviour is continuing to have fatal consequences.

“Any reduction in the road trauma is welcome – but even one life lost on Victorian roads is too many, let alone more than 200 families starting 2021 in grief. We all have to do more – and we’ve released an ambitious new Road Safety Strategy to make sure all Victorians are safe on our roads and reduce the risky behaviour that we know causes trauma,” Mr Carroll said.

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.

“We want to build a strong culture of road safety across our state, but we cannot do that alone. Each and every Victorian has a responsibility to drive safely, and it’s a responsibility we all need to take seriously,” said Police Minister Lisa Neville.

Too high in regions

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.

The State Government recently launched its new ‘Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030’, with a focus 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 – and while too many Victorians are still dying on the roads, enforcement of risky behaviours remains vital.

The government’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, Minister Carroll said.