Basic errors, not speed, cause 70 per cent of road deaths: government report

Speed kills? Sometimes, but more often than not it's driver error that causes fatalities on Victorian roads.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
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Seven in 10 crashes on Victorian roads are caused by drivers making small mistakes, according to new research from the state’s Traffic Accident Commission.

While speed and drink driving are factors in some cases, 71 per cent of all deaths on Victorian roads can be attributed to a “basic error” such as “taking a corner too wide”.

“There is a common misconception that it’s people that take risks who are involved in fatal crashes,” said Ben Carroll, Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety.

“It’s not, anyone can be involved in an accident regardless of their experience on our roads.”

Driver training expert Courtenay Rufus says it shows “how important education is, and good driver training is” to reduce the road toll.

“We’ve always been saying that driver training is a big issue, and governments’ focus nationwide on speed, alcohol, and drugs isn’t enough,” Mr Rufus, founder of CRUDE Ultimate Driving Education, said.

“We need to focus on behaviour, knowledge, and skill.”

Steve Pizzati, Top Gear Australia host and driver training expert, has previously told us he’s “yet to meet an Australian who thinks the driver training system in Australia is adequate”.

Speed is at the core of the Victorian Government’s messaging about lowering the road toll.

Late in 2020 the Victorian Government announced plans to expand the number of hours mobile speed cameras spend on the roads by 75 per cent.

The 2020 State Budget projects the amount of revenue raised annually by these cameras will jump by close to 60 per cent by 2023.

Despite more sophisticated cameras spending more hours in more places, the state’s road toll remains almost identical to 2020.

130 people have been killed on Victorian roads since the start of 2021, down just three per cent on the same point in 2020.

The number of people killed on the state’s roads each year since 2015 is below:

  • 2015 – 252
  • 2016 – 290
  • 2017 – 259
  • 2018 – 213
  • 2019 – 266
  • 2020 – 211

Victoria is unique in not warning motorists about its mobile speed cameras. Where most states and territories have signs telling drivers to slow down ahead of a camera, Victoria hides them in regular-looking cars on the side of the road.

New South Wales recently experimented with the removal of warning signs for its speed cameras, but has reinstated them after nine months.

Although the unmarked cameras issued a record numbers of fines, the road toll in New South Wales hasn’t improved year-on-year.

MORE: Talking driver training with Steve Pizzati
MORE: Good driving habits it’s time to learn

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Scott Collie is the News Editor at CarExpert.
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