Record low road toll set for South Australia in 2016

Photo: iStock.
Photo: iStock.

Fairfax Media SA ran a six-week road safety campaign in late 2016 – read the featured stories from across the state here.

A road fatality toll of 87 was registered for South Australia in 2016, beating all previous records.

The figure depicts a drop from 2015, when 102 fatalities were recorded, and beats the previous record low of 94 fatalities in 2012.

Preliminary figures have also pointed to a drop in serious injuries, with 718 recorded in 2016, close to the record low of 711 in 2014.

South Australia also achieved the largest reduction in annual fatalities of any Australian state in 2016.

Significant improvements include:

  • Fatalities have decreased by 14% in rural areas and 19% in greater Adelaide compared to 2015.
  • Pedestrian fatalities have halved in 2016 compared to 2015 – a total of 9 compared to 18 last year and a 5 year average (2011-2015) of 15 per year.
  • Driver and passenger fatalities not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash reduced to 12% in 2016, compared to the 5 year average (2011-2015) of 30%.
  • Motorcyclists accounted for 8 fatalities (including 1 scooter rider) – 3 fewer than in 2015 and 6 fewer than the previous 5 year average (2011-2015).
  • Speed was identified as a contributing factor in 25% of fatal crashes in 2016, and improvement on the previous 5 year average of 29%.

There has been little improvement in the following areas:

  • Alcohol – preliminary figures show that for the 12 months to the end of June 2016 24% of drivers or riders killed had an illegal BAC, the majority well over 3 times the legal limit. This shows no improvement on the previous 5 year average of 23%.
  • Drugs – preliminary figures show that for the 12 months to the end of June 2016 14 drivers or riders killed tested positive to cannabis, methamphetamine or ecstasy, compared to an average of 13 per year 2011-2015.
  • Fatigue – at least 14 fatal crashes in 2016 have been attributed to fatigue (10 in 2015).
  • There were 5 heavy vehicle drivers killed in South Australia in 2016 compared to 1 in 2015 and an average of 2 per year (2011-2015).

Road safety minister Pete Malinauskas said while the new low record was welcomed, “it is sobering to remember that 87 lives have been lost and hundreds more changed forever as a result of crashes”. 

“It is concerning to see the statistics for fatal crashes involving drug driving continue to increase,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“This is why we have targeted drug driving as an area of focus, with tough new penalties which I am introducing to Parliament next year including an automatic loss of licence for first time drug driving offences.”

Motor Accident Commission community engagement manager Matt Hanton reiterated the minister’s views.

“While this reduction in both deaths and serious injuries is a considerable achievement, there is still so much more to do – too many people are still dying or being seriously injured on our roads in crashes that could’ve been avoided,” Mr Hanton said.

“The saddest part is complacency and poor driver behaviour including speed, failure to wear a seatbelt, drink and drug driving, disobeying simple road rules and inattention have all contributed to death and injury on our roads this year.

“Road safety is about each of us taking responsibility for our behaviour – not sometimes, or most of the time, but every single time we get behind the wheel.”