As police brace for increased activity on South Australian roads over the Christmas period, shocking statistics have revealed the leading cause of holiday road trauma over the past five years.
Distraction has emerged as the most common cause of lives lost and serious injury on state roads during the Christmas and New Year period from 2015 to 2020, with its representation in holiday road trauma statistics continuing to rise.
Ten people were killed and a further 31 were seriously injured between 19 December 2019, and 3 January 2020, with distraction accounting for 29% of these avoidable incidents.
“This represents 10 families who will be grieving a loved one this Christmas and 31 people who will be painfully reminded of their life-changing injuries at this time of year,” Officer in Charge Traffic Services Branch, Superintendent Bob Gray, said.
“The message is very simple: when you’re driving, just drive. Do not look at mobile phones, even for GPS purposes, do not be distracted by children in the car, and do not take your eyes off the road for any reason.”
Supt Gray said many South Australians have had a trying year and are looking forward to enjoying the company of family and friends.
“We are launching Operation Safe Holidays this weekend to try to ensure this is a memorable Christmas for everyone, for all the right reasons,” Supt Gray said.
Operation Safe Holidays will run from Saturday 19 December to Sunday 3 January, and will target the Fatal Five causes of lives lost and serious injuries – speeding, drink/drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, distraction and dangerous driving.
Police Minister Vincent Tarzia also warned of the dangers of fatigue – another factor that can cause road tragedy – for drivers and their families during holiday travel.
“We’re asking motorists to really think about their holiday this year and plan ahead so they know when and where they will take breaks,” Minister Tarzia said.
“Stop every two hours for at least 15 minutes and share the drive with others.
“Our regional towns are some of the best in Australia and have so much to offer. Make a stop, enjoy the sights, revive and survive. A quick break could be a life-saving decision.”