Young male drivers a holiday risk: Coroner

Fatal collision survey shows who is at risk during holidays

Young male drivers are more at risk of dying in a car crash during the festive season, according to the Victorian Coroners Prevention Unit.

Those who travel between 2pm and 4pm on the Victorian roads are more likely to end up in a crash, the Unit’s Review of the Victorian Christmas Holiday Road Toll says.

Up to 170 coronial fatal collisions were reviewed during 11 Christmas periods from 1999/2000 to 2009/2010.

Of the deaths, 70 percent occurred whilst the driver was undertaking general social or day-to-day activities, such as driving to shopping centres, visiting friends or leaving a licensed venue.

Holiday-related travel was association with 19 percent of car deaths and 14 percent of overall road user deaths.

Passenger deaths during the Christmas period were also higher than at other times of the year.

The research also deputed the long-held belief that city people die on country roads, revealing that 66 percent of fatalities involving people who live in rural areas occurred in rural areas.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Key Lay said the report was the most powerful tool in having an impact on road trauma.

"While the annual number of fatal collisions in Victoria continues to decline, there is one period every year in which there is no decline in deaths- the Christmas holiday period," Lay says.

"Collisions at this time are contributing to an increasing proportion of the annual road toll, rising from 2.5 percent of deaths in 1999-2000 up to five percent in 2009-2010.

"This is despite the strong efforts of police and road safety organisations, including the TAC, VicRoads, SES and others every year."

"We know that with holiday driving comes risk- people are driving long distances on often unfamiliar roads," he adds.

"But this review shows that a significant number of deaths over this period are in fact people undertaking day-to-day short distance trips to shopping centres and the like. This just shows that we all need to be vigilant on the road at all times and on all trips."

The most common deaths occurred in single vehicle collisions, the review says. These collisions occurred more often in daylight hours, usually between 2pm and 4pm.

One person died each day on Victorian roads during the holidays, with alcohol a factor in almost one-third of fatal crashes.

Speed was involved in 25 percent of the fatalities, whilst fatigue was a factor in 19 percent and illicit drug use involved 14 percent.

"I strongly believe that education is essential in reducing road trauma," Lay says.

"If we can tell the community exactly what the biggest risks are in road deaths over this period, we arm people with the knowledge to not become a statistic."

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