There is little good news in the road toll this year and Easter should be a good time to consider how we can all contribute to keeping it down.
The road toll for the year to date in Victoria is a staggering 60 per cent up on last year. While this comes off a very low toll last year (213 deaths in total making it one of the lowest ever) this can be little solace when the 96 deaths so far this year make it one of the worst in years and potentially on track for the worst in a decade.
Perhaps even worse is where it concentrates and this is demanding of greater attention. Of this Victorian total, two thirds are fatalities that have occurred on rural roads, almost double what they were at the same time last year. In central Victoria the road toll already stands at nine. Nine people who won't be with their families this Easter. Who won't be sharing the holiday, the hot cross buns, the easter eggs.
If these just seem like numbers, it is worth recalling the Toward Zero motto that no one deserves to lose their life on the roads and again reflecting on the grim tragedy every single one of these numbers represents to a family or community. What is harrowing is these numbers are heading in precisely the wrong direction.
Disproportionate road deaths in regional areas have been an unfortunate constant in every years total road toll. Higher speeds, long distances, more obstacles and higher chances of fatigue are all factors that contribute but these figures also show that after some initial improvements this imbalance is getting worse.
It is no surprise the police are deeply concerned when these numbers keep climbing without including the Easter holiday period. At the same time the region's roads have been fairly dry up until now and the dangers of inclement weather, ice and long nights all of which add to the risk factors show just what they are up against during the winter.
All the same warnings are applicable, the need for greater attention, for breaking the journey and perhaps most of all, an acute understanding that a slightly slower speed may only add minutes to a journey but could save a life.
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