Did you know that this week, the 27th – 31st of August, is Queensland Road Safety Week? It’s a week dedicated to making our roads safer for all Queenslanders. This year’s focus is on ‘Speaking up for Road Safety – Road Rules Refresh’, encouraging us to always speak up for road safety and to brush up on our road rules.
Speaking up is a major focus for this initiative, each and every year. This year, encouraging all of us to speak up when we know something isn’t right – whether it’s a friend that shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel, someone driving dangerously or other behaviours we see from those around us that we know can put us, them or others at risk. Speaking up when this is occurring can be tough, but the message from Queensland Road Safety Week is that it’s worth it – speaking up could prevent an accident and save a life.
As Queensland Road Safety Week explains, it’s about challenging the status quo – we have to stop accepting death and serious injury as just ‘part and parcel’ of using our roads.
There are many different facets of road safety and challenges when driving on our roads, from distraction or fatigue, to drugs and alcohol. When we are the driver of a vehicle, many of these are within our control and factors we should consider every time we get behind the wheel.
So, what are some of the major factors that can contribute to accidents and injuries on our roads?
There are many factors that impact safety on our roads, and the Queensland Police have researched these factors to develop the ‘Fatal Five’ – the five major factors that cause or contribute to accidents, injuries and fatalities on our roads. These are:
- Alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription medication;
- Not wearing a seat belt or incorrectly fitted seatbelts and child restraints;
- Fatigue and;
So how can we combat some of these factors, to keep ourselves and others safe on our roads?
There are many ways to combat the major factors that can play a role in accidents, such as distraction, fatigue, drugs and alcohol, and speeding to name a few. Road Safety Week has laid out a few tips, facts and advice including:
Ensure all passengers, and the driver, wear their seatbelt at all times:
- Sometimes for short trips or driving in property, we think it’s fine to skip the seatbelt, but the facts show that wearing a seatbelt reduces your risk of fatal or serious injury by up to 50%
- It’s also important to ensure all child restraints and seats are properly installed.
Be strict about zero phone use while driving:
- If you’re driving alone, you can connect to Bluetooth for calls but have a strict policy of not touching your phone for texts or anything else – at all. If it’s really that important, pull over.
- If you’re driving with others, put someone in charge of your phone – music, messaging, whatever it may be.
Don’t speed, and ask other in your car to hold you to this:
- It can be all too easy to put your foot down on roads you know well, or open highways with no one in sight. But the statistics show it’s just never worth it – with 5km/h in urban areas and 10km/h in rural areas enough to double the risk of a casualty crash.
- Encourage an attitude of enjoying the drive, planning out stops (for longer drives) and enjoying the scenery, rather than rushing to get the drive over and done with or arrive somewhere on a tight schedule.
Don’t risk drugs or excessive alcohol behind the wheel:
- Stick to the recommended limits for staying under 0.05% blood alcohol content, but also remember the guidelines aren’t specific to you and your body – so you might potentially be best drinking less, or nothing. You know best how alcohol affects you, and for some people a glass of wine, even within the recommend limits, could make you feel unsafe to drive.
- If you feel like you will struggle to stick to these limits, don’t drive.
- Illicit drugs and driving don’t mix, and you shouldn’t risk it.
- Many prescription medications will impact your reaction times and driving ability, so you should pay attention to the medication advice and avoid driving if it affects you. You should also be wary of mixing prescription medications and alcohol if you’re getting behind the wheel, as this can drastically affect your reaction times, depending on the medication.
Set boundaries or rules for your passengers:
- If you have little ones in the car, it can be a lot harder to do this, but ensuring they have adequate breaks out of the car, toys, water and food etc. can go a long way.
- If you’re driving with a few friends and they’re being too noisy, playing music too loud or generally making it hard to concentrate on driving, don’t be afraid to speak up – you’re responsible for their safety, so you need to be able to concentrate!
For longer trips
- Plan out some places to stop and have a break, you’re more easily distracted when tired or bored.
- Don’t rush to make up time or get in early, allow yourself more than enough time to get where you’re going – but if something happens, don’t speed to catch up. The time you make up is minimal, but the risks are high. Remember it’s more important to arrive safely.
- Have your Bluetooth connected, playlist sorted, radio stations set (frequencies for your favourite station in different areas) and let those people you text most know you’re on the road and out of contact.
This is just a little bit of advice from Queensland Road Safety week and the Queensland Police. There are so many more things to consider when getting behind the wheel and staying safe on our roads, but, realistically, a lot of the advice is practical – things we likely already know we should do to stay safe.
Unfortunately, even the safest drivers and road users can be the victim of an accident or injury. Should the worst happen to you on our roads, our team can help with a free review of your case and honest advice about your best path forward. You can find out more about these claims here.