Australian road tolls hit five-year high: Why speed cameras don’t save lives

Australian road tolls hit five-year high: Why speed cameras don't save lives

Australia’s highest road toll in five years has cast doubt on the rising number of speed cameras arresting motorists for minor offences, rather than targeting the most dangerous group: drunk, drugged and suspended drivers.

The number of motorists killed on Australian roads hit a five-year high in 2022, prompting calls for more police crackdowns on illegal, drunk or drug-affected repeat offenders – who experts say pose the greatest danger on our roads than commuters, which are detected by speed cameras on an industrial scale at less than 10 km/h above the speed limit.

According to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics (BITRE), 1,187 people died on Australian roads in 2022 – the highest death toll since 2017.

Last year’s national road toll represents a five per cent increase over the 1,129 motorists killed in 2021, and an eight per cent increase compared to 2020, which saw 1,096 fatalities – although both years were marred by closures across Australia.

Despite Australia being the third most populous state, more motorists died on Queensland’s roads than any other jurisdiction in 2022, with 299 deaths recorded from car accidents.

New South Wales had the second highest number of motorist fatalities with 288 fatalities, followed by Victoria (240), Western Australia (174), South Australia (71), Tasmania (50), the Northern Territory (47) and the Australian Capital Territory (18).

The 18 road deaths in the ACT last year were a 63.6 per cent increase compared to 2021 – the largest increase of any Australian state or territory and more than 20 per cent higher than Tasmania’s 42.9 per cent increase in year-on-year deaths.

Experienced frontline highway cops have said it drive State and territory governments focus on speed cameras because they’re an easy way to generate revenue while using road safety as a cover.

“Most road fatalities occur in regional areas or on the open road, most speed cameras and speed checks are carried out in metropolitan areas where governments can rake in the most money,” a senior highway patrol official said on condition of anonymity.

“The message ‘Accelerating below 10 km/h over the limit is dangerous’ is also a lie. What the government fails to tell the public is that people killed at these modest speeds crashed for other reasons: because they were intoxicated, drug addicts, a driving ban, or an unsafe or unregistered car. This group (is) by far the biggest threat on the streets. Not moms and dads who go to work every day.

“Until the government is ready to adequately address road safety, speed cameras will keep clicking and road tolls will keep increasing.”

According to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the federal government’s National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS), which aims to reduce road deaths by 50 per cent and serious injuries by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2018-2020, is unlikely to be achieved met.

While the number of road deaths fell by 0.6 percent from September to December 2022 compared to the previous three months, the road toll needs to be reduced by more than 19 percent every three months to meet the government’s 2030 target.

In response to road tolls increasing for the third year in a row, AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley criticized Australia’s state and territory governments for their lack of transparency into the true causes of fatal accidents and said a more honest approach would lead to more effective road safety policies.

“This is yet another report showing that our national approach to dealing with traffic accidents continues to lack clarity and coordination,” Bradley said in a media statement.

“The tough targets agreed by the government are to be welcomed, but strong targets alone do not lead to better results. If we want different outcomes, we need to change the way traffic accidents are handled, and the first step must be proper reporting and sharing of traffic accident information.

“It is unacceptable that governments continue to commit to reducing trauma metrics that they do not measure or report.

“Until traffic trauma data is openly reported and used by governments, the top causes of Australian traffic trauma are; the most appropriate interventions; and the effectiveness of the plans currently in place will remain unknown.”

Autonomous Emergency Braking will be mandatory in all new cars launched in Australia from March 2023

As previously reported, the Government is aiming to make new cars safer by making Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) mandatory in all newly launched models across Australia from March 2023.

From March 2025, the advanced safety technology will be mandatory in all new passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3.5 tons.

When the directive was announced in November 2021, the federal government claimed that mandatory AEB in new cars would save about 20 lives – and prevent 600 serious injuries – every year.

2022 Australian road tolls by state and territory

State/Territory Motorists killed in 2022
Queensland 299 (national high)
NSW 288
Victoria 240
Western Australia 174
South Australia 71
Tasmania 50
Northern Territory 47
Australian Capital Territory 18

Australian road toll since 2012

Year driver killed
2012 1300
2013 1187
2014 1150
2015 1209
2016 1293
2017 1225
2018 1134
2019 1186
2020 1096
2021 1129
2022 1187
Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach was born in Canberra/Ngunnawal and currently resides in Brisbane/Turrbal. Jordan joined the Drive team in 2022 and has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. A self-proclaimed iRacing addict, Jordan finds himself either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or berating his ZH Fairlane over the weekend.

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