26 April 2024

2024 road toll already matches 2023 total, police say majority of deaths on Canberra's roads this year 'preventable'

| Claire Fenwicke
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motorcycle crash

A 46-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Coree on Sunday (21 April). Photo: ACT Policing.

Police officers have stressed the ACT’s rising road toll should be a “wake-up call” for every driver and rider to examine their behaviour and how it’s putting others at risk.

Four people have been killed on Canberra’s roads already in 2024.

There were four road deaths in total for the ACT in 2023.

Road and Protective Policing Sergeant Brian Diplock said no matter the circumstances, every death was a “tragedy”.

“We have reached four already this year, which is particularly horrendous given [most] road fatalities are preventable,” he said.

“It is disturbing that we’ve had so many [deaths] so quickly.”

Joshua Stewart, 19, was the first person to die on our roads this year after the allegedly stolen car he was a passenger in was involved in a serious collision with another vehicle on the Barton Highway on 17 January.

A 14-year-old boy has been charged over the incident and another 14-year-old boy suffered life-threatening head and chest injuries.

The ACT’s second road death was Tennis Canberra coach Alicia Celaya Jauregui, who was killed while cycling on Lady Denman Drive on 20 March.

It’s believed excessive speed by a vehicle driver was a factor in the collision. No charges have been laid over this incident.

More recently, a 15-year-old boy died on 21 April as a result of injuries sustained from a single-vehicle crash on Adelaide Avenue in Yarralumla.

He had been found near the vehicle on 17 April with critical injuries after it smashed into a concrete barrier. It’s still unclear if he was the sole occupant or driver of the vehicle.

Finally, a 46-year-old motorcyclist died following a single-vehicle crash on Brindabella Road at Coree on 21 April. The circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation.

“[This] should be a wake-up call for everyone for the behaviours that we know do contribute to motor vehicle collisions,” Sgt Diplock said.

“Police would love a zero-road fatality year, but that’s something we cannot do without the public’s support.”

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There have also been plenty of near-misses and serious collisions on Canberra’s roads this year, with police particularly concerned about motorcyclists.

ACT Road Policing Sergeant Travis Mills said there didn’t seem to be any one reason for a spike in crashes this year.

“We had one this morning where a [motorcyclist] appears to have had his leg broken on Coulter Drive … he was struck by another vehicle,” he said.

Another rider sustained serious leg injuries following a crash on the Majura Parkway on Monday (22 April).

There will be a larger police presence on our roads as double demerits for the Anzac Day public holiday kick off from 12 am Wednesday (24 April) and last until 11:59 pm on Sunday (28 April).

Sgt Mills specifically urged motorists to keep an eye out for more vulnerable road users.

“No one likes to see road trauma. Road trauma is something that can generally be avoided with the right attitude from motorists,” he said.

“Consider the person in the car in front of you, on the motorcycle, on the push bike, on the e-scooter – [that’s] a family member.”

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Double demerits will apply to all speeding, seatbelt and mobile phone offences, as well as riding without a helmet, in the ACT and NSW.

All other traffic offences will also attract an additional demerit point.

Officer in Charge of ACT Road Policing, Acting Inspector Mark Richardson, said, unfortunately, the Easter period had shown double demerits on long weekends and public holidays needed to continue.

“Across the last double demerit period on the Easter long weekend, 44 drivers came to police attention for speeding,” he said.

“In addition, three drivers were charged with drink driving and four drivers with drug driving.

“All three drivers who were caught drink driving had stated they had been drinking the night before and were detected by police the following morning.”

Motorists have also been reminded to keep an eye on road closures for Anzac Day commemorations.

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Two of the deaths were more a result of serious crime (car theft) so yes they would be preventable.

Another one was very excessive speed.

David Rowlands4:34 pm 24 Apr 24

As several people have suggested, there is a ‘small numbers’ problem in making comparisons like this. Suppose you were to look at the record from 1 December to the next 1 December? Or 1 February to the next 1 February? How then would the numbers look (or choose any annual period you like). Further, should we allow for vehicle-miles travelled? That is probably increasing and could account for some increase. This analysis needs much more care.

A proportion of road deaths are preventable but a lot are inevitable by the very nature of traveling in metal vehicles at a great speed where at all times one is literally only a few inches from death – given the fallibility of human beings and factors like lapses in attention – there will always be fatalities on the roads no matter what.

Claire Fenwicke, is there a rule among journos to never use statistics? We almost never see even elementary stuff. In this case for example what is the trend over time? If comparisons are made just to the one previous reporting period (its decreased, its increased) the low number of fatalities in the ACT will guarantee you a story, but much of the time it will be a false story. Its very easy to say how much the road toll changed in % terms compared to previous % changes.

ACT’s road fatalities are difficult to compare year on year due to the low numbers. 50% this year are sadly juveniles without licences in stolen vehicles. Another was allegedly excessive speed by a young driver and the final one a motorcyclist (riders know the risks). Little accountability by some parents/carers across the community is increasingly a problem, not just on the roads. No use preaching to the wider community, more focus required on these target groups. PS reducing speed limits to 40 and 50 kms isn’t the solution to these challenges, it’s some road safety experts pet project no doubt justified through some complicated data set.

I’d have thought almost 100% of road fatalities, indeed crashes, are preventable. If only people weren’t stupid, inattentive, negligent, incompetent, intoxicated, etc, etc.

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