A ROAD safety campaigner who has spent much of the last two decades imploring students about the dangers on our roads says he is stunned at Victoria's soaring road toll of drivers aged below 39.
John Maher, whose daughter Carmen was killed 25 years ago in road crash near Bendigo, said it was clear complacency was the key factor in a spike in Victoria's 'lives lost' road toll, despite lockdown restrictions seeing many cars off the road.
While the overall number of those killed on our roads has sharply fallen from 146 at the same time last year to 111 this year, it's a different story in young drivers with a number of years experience.
So far this year, 25 people aged between 30 and 39 have lost their lives, up from 16 last year, while 14 people between 26 and 29 have also died (up from 11 to June 28 last year).
Mr Maher has travelled the country visiting schools, sharing the story of when he lost his daughter. It is having an impact with young drivers aged 18-20 killed this year down 77 per cent.
"It's like anything, as you get further away from when you heard the message, the message waters down and you don't think about it as much," Mr Maher said.
"When you have been driving for 15 years, you're say you're a good driver and you don't have to worry about being cautious and you say you won't have a crash.
"On our roads, you are never past the danger period. Grandparents die on our roads. You are driving a 1.5 tonne vehicle. Whether you live or die from a car crash is 100 per cent based on luck."
"I am staggered at the number of deaths on our roads despite the lockdown," Mr Maher said.
"You can't take things for granted, every driver must play their role and keep to the speed limit. If it says 100km/h do no go over 100km/h, if it says 60km/h do not go over 60km/h. It's not that difficult."
The other trend which has been creeping in over recent times is the amount of people killed who were not wearing seatbelts. The state government says that 30 per cent of all deaths on the road since 2012 were as a result of people not wearing seatbelts.
This year so far it is believed that 10 per cent of Victorian road deaths were people not wearing seatbelts despite this year marking the 50th anniversary of the law in this state, the first jurisdiction of anywhere in the world to make seatbelts compulsory.
Mr Maher said for the past two weeks he had been conducting a webinar series for students in Townsville, which was the scene of a quadruple fatality on June 6.
Four teens, all not wearing their seatbelts, were killed when the car they were travelling in crashed into a light pole at speed. The driver, who was wearing a seatbelt suffered only minor injuries.
"The first thing you do when you step into a car is put on your seatbelt, it should be part of your make-up," Mr Maher said.
"I've just been doing a series of webinars with students in Townsville. The message is incredibly important and it continues to be so.
"Obviously I am unable to visit schools this year due to the virus, so we have made an online webinar which we have put together and are sending out to schools all across the country to continue the message."
The state government has responded to the damning statistics by re-releasing a dramatic advertising campaign which first aired in 1992 showing a woman whose life is forever changed after she was involved in a car crash while not wearing a seatbelt.
The TAC's latest Road Safety Monitor survey into driver behaviour indicates that potentially 170,000 Victorian drivers do not always wear a seatbelt when they get in the car.
The Road Safety Monitor is an annual survey of more than 1800 Victorians, which identifies road user behaviour and attitudes.
The survey findings show half of those respondents have driven after drinking alcohol in the past year, an increase of two per cent.
Despite this, the majority of respondents said drink-driving was the most dangerous driving behaviour, followed by drowsy driving and using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
Mr Maher said the message he wanted to get out more than any other was: "You can't take things for granted, you are the most important person in the world to your loved ones".