Today the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) alongside the ACT Government, Police and AAMI have implored local road users to do their part in preventing trauma and tragedy this Christmas.
Minister for Transport Chris Steel, ACT Policing, AAMI representatives, as well as ARSF ambassador Craig Lowndes, joined the road safety authority with a powerful installation highlighting the territory’s most fatal five.
A four-metre high Christmas tree, decorated with stark reminders of the most prominent road risks undertaken by ACT drivers, was placed at the Gorman Arts Centre in Braddon to launch the campaign.
The tree was then moved to Subaru Canberra in Phillip, where it will remain until Christmas, with locals encouraged to take the #ChooseRoadSafety pledge to spread cheer over tragedy this festive season.
According to ACT Policing, speed topped the territory’s worst road risks, followed by driving under the influence of drugs, driving distracted, drink driving and not wearing a seatbelt.
ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said the prominence of speeding was a frightening trend that had been on the rise throughout 2020 as the perception of safer roads had bred complacency.
“At the height of lockdowns, our research showed that one in four drivers admitted to taking more road risks, with behaviour such as speeding increasing by an alarming 17 per cent, ” Mr White said.
“Christmas should be a time of love and laughter, not loss of life, but tragically it’s one of the most dangerous times on the road. Combined with more domestic travel and fewer flights this year, we’re expecting even more Australians taking longer road trips this Christmas.
“In fact, data released by Nextbase just this week showed that more than two in five Australians are planning a road trip this summer, so we all need to take responsibility to ensure we are adhering to speed limits, well rested, fit to drive and not distracted,” he said.
The Christmas road safety plea today was in support of ACT Policing’s ‘Who are you rushing to meet?’ campaign aimed at addressing speeding.
Minister for Transport Chris Steel said one death is too many on our roads.
“We are encouraging drivers to make better decisions when they’re behind the wheel so they can arrive safely and help us achieve our Vision Zero goal of no deaths or serious injuries on our roads,” Minister Steel said.
“Sadly, we have had six lives tragically lost on the ACT’s road this year. It’s heartbreaking to think that there will be six families facing Christmas without a loved one for the first time, and many more whose festivities will forever be marred by the tragedy of missing a person at the dinner table.
“We hope that through our road safety efforts, and those of the ARSF and AAMI, that locals will think twice about speeding, driving tired or inhibited, or picking up their mobile phone,” he said.
AAMI Executive General Manager Matt Pearson urged motorists not to be complacent when travelling this holiday season.
“The summer holidays are renowned for being a busy time of year on our roads and we can’t afford for people to be speeding, to be distracted or to be driving under the influence. The smallest misjudgement can have a big impact on the lives of many,” Mr Pearson said.
“It’s been a tough year for many families, and the festive season will be a positive time for people to come together and celebrate.
“Today’s installation is a timely and important reminder that it’s the responsibility of every driver and ever passenger to ensure our roads stay safe and our families and friends enjoy a happy Christmas season.”
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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Australian Road Safety Foundation:
0410 075 065
0423 892 557
0466 838 119
 Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of the Australian Road Safety Foundation, April 2020, n=1,005 nationally representative by gender, age and location of Australian drivers aged 18 years and over.