Tragically, 37 people died on Australian roads last Christmas (2010 – 2011). The Australian Road Safety Foundation (formerly the Fatality Free Friday Road Safety Foundation) is urging all drivers to travel safely and make this season’s road toll zero.

 

Australian Road Safety Foundation Chairman Russell White said most traffic incidents are preventable and all drivers must take responsibility for our road toll. “No one wants to see any more people killed or injured on Australia’s roads over Christmas or at any time of the year.”

 

“As always, this Christmas / New Year holiday period, we will see an increased Police presence on the roads and more road safety messages in the media, as well initiatives such as Driver Reviver rest stops on our busiest roads.

 

These measures are significant because research shows that there is no major difference in the daily fatality rate between the Christmas / New Year holiday period and the remainder of the year. It is important to consider how much worse the holiday fatality rate could be if these additional enforcement, road safety and fatigue reduction measures were not in place,” explained Russell.

 

“Drivers must remember that travelling during holiday periods can be more risky because of increased traffic volumes, congestion, tiredness, there are higher numbers of people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and people may be driving in unfamiliar environments.

 

Being courteous and flexible, remembering to share the road with others, allowing increased time for the journey, and scheduling frequent breaks can help drivers to stay safe during these high-pressure periods,” said Russell.

 

AUSTRALIAN ROAD SAFETY FOUNDATION’S TIPS FOR DRIVING SAFELY THESE HOLIDAYS

 

1. Plan ahead & be flexible
Take a little time to make sure that you and your vehicle are safe before hitting the road. Plan to avoid the worst peak traffic periods when many highways become congested. Allow plenty of time and make the journey part of the holiday. Schedule regular rest stops.

 

2. Be alert to changes
Check relevant State traffic and travel information websites or call the relevant number for real time updates about road changes, delays, closures and incidents.

 

3. Drive to the conditions
“Conditions” doesn’t just refer to the weather. It includes: the road you’re on; weather; traffic conditions; speed (the speed limit and a “safe speed” may differ); you – are you tired or on medication that affects your driving; and your vehicle and load.

 

4. Watch out for fatigue
Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Plan to get enough rest beforehand and during the trip so that you drive fresh. Plan in advance where you’ll take breaks on your trip. A large percentage of fatal traffic accidents are single vehicle crashes where fatigue is a contributing factor.

 

5. Identify the safest routes
Some routes are safer than others. You need to know that roadside hazards like trees, ditches, poles and narrow shoulders can increase risk. Intersections can be dangerous and so can busy roads without a median barrier. Armed with that knowledge you can adjust your driving to the conditions and take extra care on higher risk rural roads.

 

6. Before you travel
Check your vehicle including tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes, engine oil, coolant and power steering fluid. Also, when packing your vehicle, make sure everything is securely stowed. Even small objects can become dangerous missiles in the event of a sudden stop or crash.

 

7. Check your trailers and caravans
Check all towing attachments and make sure the couplings are compatible. Also remember to check the safety chain, trailer lights, tyres and brakes.

 

8. Keep your cool
Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads and potentially slower sightseeing travellers. Be courteous and patient and don’t be provoked by other drivers' aggressive behaviour.

 

9. Buckle up & use correctly fitted child restraints
Seat beats save lives. Making sure you and everyone in your car are wearing a seat belt is arguably the most significant thing you can do to improve your level of safety whilst driving. Additionally, correctly using and fitting child restraints, booster seats or child safety harnesses can substantially reduce the risk of serious injury or death.

 

10. Remember you’re sharing the road
Traffic volumes increase during the holidays and you’ll be sharing the road with other cars, as well as pedestrians, cyclists, heavy trucks, buses, campervans and vehicles towing boats or caravans. Always keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front.