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Australia's road toll lowest since 1946

Australia's national road toll last year fell to its lowest level since 1946.

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In total, 1292 people were killed on Australia’s roads in 2011, down 4.4 per cent compared with 2010 and down almost 20 per cent from five years ago.

All states experienced a reduction in their road toll in 2011 except Queensland, which increased from 249 to 269, and Victoria, which was steady at 288.

Deaths of road users in the high-risk 17 to 25 age bracket decreased more than any other last year, falling 17 per cent from 336 to 279.

The news was not so good for children aged 0-16, with their road toll increasing 32.4 per cent to 98 fatalities (the figures include deaths of passengers, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as drivers and motorcyclists). Deaths of older road users also increased 13.2 per cent to 189 in 2011.

Men continue to be over-represented in the statistics, accounting for 72.2 per cent of the 2011 total.

The Northern Territory’s fatality rate relative to its population remains alarmingly high. Last year 19.12 per 100,000 people died on NT’s roads, almost four times the rate in Victoria (5.12) and New South Wales (5.15).

More than one third of road deaths occurred in zones with a posted speed limit of 100km/h, while fewer than 13 per cent occurred on stretches of road with limits of or above 110km/h.

Weekends remain the most dangerous time to be on the road, with more than 41 per cent of fatalities occurring during the 60 hours between 6pm Friday and 6am Monday.