Two hundred and thirteen people lost their lives on Victoria’s roads on 2020, with speeding, drugs, drinking, and mobile phone use among the major drivers of deadly crashes.
The number equals 2018’s record low, with 53 fewer people dying compared to last year.
But rates of road trauma actually increased when adjusted for the fact fewer cars were on the road due to the COVID-19 lockdown, according to Victoria Police.
Assistant Commissioner Libby Murphy said the trend was “concerning” in a press conference on Friday.
“What we’ve actually seen is that per 10,000 vehicles on the road there’s been significantly larger amounts of trauma which is concerning for us,” she said.
Among the dangerous road behaviour that escalated during the peak of the pandemic was people speeding at over 145km/h, which Ms Murphy described as “staggering” in its overrepresentation.
“That’s backed off now that there’s more vehicles on the road,” she said.
Transport Accident Commission CEO Joe Calafiore said the fact there were fewer deaths than other years was “cold comfort”.
His organisation supports people who have sustained really serious injuries in road accidents, including people who become quadriplegic or paraplegic, and those with acquired brain injuries.
“This is not a tap on the bumper bar,” Mr Calafiore said.
His organisation gets 20,000 new clients each year.
Among the 213 dead were 13 bicyclists, 33 motorcyclists and 29 pedestrians.
Just over a third of deaths were caused by speeding. Drugs were involved in 32 per cent of fatal incidents, and 21 per cent were caused by alcohol.
Ms Murphy’s main message to drivers was simple: “Slow down. Be courteous. Be patient.”
“If someone does something bad to you, it’s not a challenge to have a fight, to have road rage, to speed up, to not let people in,” she said.
“Let it go by the wayside. You’re better people than that. You’re better humans than that.”