If you watched the news during 2018, you might have thought more people were dying on the roads. We failed once again to meet targets in the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS), for example. greenslips.com.au took a more positive view. Now the NSW Minister for Roads admits 2018 saw the biggest reduction in the road toll in five years.
Good news for nearly everyone
The best news during 2018 was 35 fewer people, compared to 2017, lost their lives. This was the biggest reduction since 2013. For those families who did lose someone in 2017, it was still a terrible and unnecessary tragedy.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy emphasised the big decline in passenger deaths, 25 less in 2018. He put this down to passengers speaking up to the driver about the quality of their driving.
There is more to celebrate
- 1,160 serious injuries were the lowest ever since 2005
- 26 fewer people died on all country roads than 2017
- Biggest decreases were on country roads over 80kmh (35 less)
- Crashes from speeding went from 167 to 138, the biggest decline in the big four*
- Deaths in heavy truck crashes fell from 79 to 53
- Biggest decline in deaths was in age 40-49s followed by 60-69s.
- Fewer women died, down 34; unfortunately no change in male deaths.
*Speeding, fatigue, alcohol and seat belts.
Deaths per population
We are particularly interested in the rate per population. This is because the population and the number of registered vehicles is always increasing.
- The 2018 NSW rate is 4.43 deaths per 100,000, down from 4.94 in 2017
- In 2011 when the NRSS launched, the NSW rate was 6.6 per 100,000
- The national rate of deaths per 100,000 population was 4.7 in 2018, down 3.9% on 2017, says BITRE.
In the past decade, all states and territories achieved reductions in the rate of 2.4% per year or more. The rate of deaths per 100,000 has fallen 26.3% over the last decade. We must be doing something right.
Are we driving more safely?
With such positive results, it would be interesting to know what is making the difference. Is it speed cameras, heavy fines and threat of losing your licence? Or is it because vehicles are becoming safer?
While nobody will say this, perhaps we are becoming better drivers. Surely not! Then there would be no good reason for autonomous vehicles.