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Why we have the Fatal Five

Posted: 3pm 26 Aug 2020

Here’s why the Fatal Five have become the cornerstone of the Moreton Police Road Safety Week (August 24-28) message across the Moreton Bay Region and Queensland.

Police have selected each topic based on statistics and evidence, drawn from years of enforcing the road rules and monitoring motorists.

So in the 2020 Road Safety Week check out this detailed guide to the Fatal Five:

1. Speeding

  • Speeding increases the risk of being involved in a fatal or serious injury crash
  • You travel further in the time it takes you to notice and then react to hazards
  • You are more likely to lose control of your vehicle (for example on a curve)
  • Other road users may misjudge your speed
  • The faster you go, the longer it takes to stop

2. Drink driving

  • Drink driving is a major contributor to road trauma, despite an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit being in place for more than 25 years.
  • Queensland police do around 3 million breath tests every year, detecting more than 16,500 drink driving offences.
  • The casualty crash risk doubles when driving with a BAC just in excess of 0.05 and the risk of involvement in a fatal crash even more sharply.
  • A high proportion of repeat drink drivers have clinical alcohol dependence problems.
  • Research shows an alarming number of motorists are driving after consuming illegal drugs and drug driving in some groups may be greater than drink driving.
  • Rates of self-reported drug driving have fallen in recent years in Australia, from 21 per cent in 2007 to 15.1 per cent in 2016.
  • In Queensland in 2015/16, almost 50,000 roadside drug tests resulted in more than 10,000 positive tests, representing a positive test rate of 21.9 per cent.
  • In the past two years, the rate of roadside drug testing in this state has more than doubled.
  • Some medications can impair driving by causing drowsiness, slowing reaction time and affect mental concentration making it difficult to multi-task and make quick decisions
  • In Queensland in 2016 unrestrained vehicle occupants accounted for 32 road fatalities or 25.6 per cent of all vehicle occupant fatalities – an increase over 60 per cent on 2015.
  • 182 hospitalised casualties (4.7 per cent of all hospitalised casualties) were known to have been unrestrained and 11 per cent more than the previous 5 year average.

3. Drug driving

Medication and driving

  • The use of drugs that affect mood, cognition and psychomotor functioning can directly or indirectly potentially impair driving ability.
  • Many over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as some cough-cold-flu day and night formulas, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, antibiotics, antidepressants, some drugs for epilepsy, and sleep medications such as benzodiazepines, can potentially impair driving

4. Mobile phones and distraction

Driver distraction, including mobile phones, is one of the main causes of road crashes, accounting for about 1 in 4 car crashes.

  • Approximately 84 per cent of mobile phone users own a smartphone. The greater functionality of smartphones the greater potential to distract a driver.
  • All phone activities that require taking your eyes off the road should be avoided.
  • Drivers are not good at selecting where and when is safe to use a mobile phone while driving.
  • Talking to a passenger is less distracting than talking on a mobile phone. If a dangerous situation develops, the passenger can stop talking.

5. Seatbelts

  • The use of seat belts following legislation and enforcement in the 1970s is regarded as a key factor in reducing the road toll from 3382 deaths in 1968 to 2887 deaths in 1988.
  • In 2015, 177 vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt were killed in Australia - about 15 per cent of all road crash fatalities.

Driving and fatigue

  • Driving when sleepy is high risk which can affect anyone - no individual is immune to the effects from sleepiness
  • A driver who has been awake for 17 hours has a driving ability similar to that of a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05
  • When we feel sleepy, the risk of having a sleep-related crash increases by 360 per cent. When it starts to take effort to stay awake, the risk increases to 560 per cent
  • Sleepiness contributes to 20-30 per cent of all deaths and severe injuries on the road, similar to speeding and drink driving
  • There are currently no well-validated technologies that can reliably detect sleepiness. Drivers must assess their own sleepiness.

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