• Traffic related incidents are the second most likely cause of death for those aged under 25.
  • Road fatalities are sudden, leaving families ill prepared for dealing with the grief.
  • On the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (20th November), experts advise families to seek professional support following a sudden loss.

The amount of registered vehicles on Australian roads is increasing, with an annual growth of 2.1%, the number of vehicles on our roads now exceeds 18 million. This greater volume of vehicles on our roads is not only leading to congestion but also an increased risk of road traffic accidents.

Globally, 50 million injuries or disabilities and 1.2 million deaths occur on the roads every year[1]. In Australia, traffic related incidents are the second major cause of death for those aged 15-24 and third most likely cause for those aged 25-34[2].

This high number of fatal road traffic accidents involving young Australians leaves thousands of families and parents thrown into sudden grief and having to cope with the loss of a loved one prematurely and unexpectedly.

Russell White, CEO and Founder of the Australian Road Safety Foundation says “We can never become complacent when it comes to reducing road trauma. Improving vehicle safety, road design and enforcement obviously need to continue but we also need to look at improving education, addressing human factors and focusing more on personal responsibility.

In order to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads, White believes that the fundamentals learnt in the early part of a driving career are essential but the learning should not stop there. “There are a whole range of additional skills and experience that need to be developed. What we need to look at is how we can start to develop higher order skills and expand awareness beyond simply knowing the road rules.”

Grief Expert, Deb Rae who experienced the loss of her husband to a road accident says, “We all have a duty of care to ensure that our young drivers are vigilant every time they get into their cars and take to the roads. Young people often feel indestructible, which can lead to excessive risk taking.”

“The impact of a fatal traffic accident to families is enormous, it is the responsibility of every road user to drive down the number of fatalities on our roads.”

Deb says, “The sudden loss of a loved one can be paralysing, particularly as many sudden deaths by accident or misadventure can in some cases be avoidable, bringing up many complications within the grieving process, the ‘what-if’s’ and the anger that occurs as a result of someone else’s decision taking the life of a loved one. The suddenness of road related incidents has a significant impact on families, with no time to prepare for such a tragic event.”

Russell tells us “Above all we need the community to understand that government and the police can only do so much, ultimately the keys to road safety are in our hands. Nothing can replace a life lost. The impact goes beyond the person involved and extends to family, friends and the entire community.”

Research carried out by Deb Rae Solutions, revealed that 1 in 5 people felt mostly alone in dealing with their grief, highlighting the need for communities and families to help support those dealing with tragedy. As a result of her experiences, Deb wrote the book ‘Getting There’ to help support the bereaved through their grief.

On the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (20th November), Deb Rae encourages grieving families not to go through the experience alone and seek out help from friends, family and professional support for guidance on navigating through the weeks and months after their loss.


About World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was started by RoadPeace in 1993. Since then it has been observed and promoted worldwide by several NGOs, including the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (FEVR) and its associated organizations. On 26 October 2005, the United Nations endorsed it as a global day to be observed every third Sunday in November each year, making it a major advocacy day for road traffic injury prevention. WHO and the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration encourage governments and NGOs around the world to commemorate this day. For more info: http://www.who.int/roadsafety/remembrance_day/en/

About Deb Rae Solutions

Bereavement Expert and Author Deb Rae’s learning started through personal experience when she decided to quit her day job at age 36 and travel the world with her husband Stuart. However, Stuart was killed in a road accident in Poland and Deb found herself thrust into a slow, confusing, painful, personal transformation. Everything changed for her. She had to find a new home, a new job, a new country. As a result of her experience she found herself thinking a lot about how people deal with change. Deb’s transformation process took her back to university, out to a little farmhouse and back overseas. She was also invited into the homes and workplaces of many other people looking for better lives, stronger teams and more productive businesses.

About Getting There

Deb’s book Getting There: Grief to Peace for Young Widows is ground-breaking, well-researched, courageous and uplifting.  There has never been anything written with so much sincerity, honesty or usefulness for young widows going through their own life-changing experience.  It’s also vital reading for family, friends and professionals wanting to understand the world of a grieving person and knowing how to support them.

About the Research

The study surveyed 1,000 Australians over 18 years of age who had lost someone close to them. Conducted as a National Representative (NatRep) survey between 1st—10th June 2016.

About The Australian Road Safety Foundation

The Australian Road Safety Foundation is a not for profit organisation dedicated to improving road safety awareness, enhancing driver education and reducing the impact of road trauma. Their vision is to drive the safety of every road user, every day, to achieve significant year-on-year reduction in road deaths and injuries nationally. Their mission is to change the culture of Australian road user and authorities to one of awareness, of passion for and genuine commitment to road safety.



[1] http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_traffic/activities/faces/en/

[2] ABS Cause of Death 2016 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/DetailsPage/3303.02015?OpenDocument