Today is Fatality Free Friday. The Australian Road Safety Foundation campaign began 10 years ago with the aiming of encouraging us to fully focus and actively concentrate on the road, and ensure everyone gets home safely.
Events were held across Australia today, including at Darling Harbour in Sydney (pictured), where people signed up to the cause on-the-spot.
Along with encouraging safer driving practices to help prevent road trauma, this year's campaign will also focus on creating awareness of the dangers of driving while affected by illicit substances.
Astoundingly, new research shows that not only do 19 per cent of drivers in the 25-34 year-old age group think that drugs won't impact their driving, a high number of Australian drivers think it's less risky than drink driving, and one-in ten-in this age group have driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.
Australian Road Safety Foundation CEO Russell White said it's important that road users are educated on the factors that may impair their ability to drive safely.
“We want to drive the message home that any form of reckless behaviour, including driving under the influence of illicit drugs, alcohol and even some prescription medications can lead to devastating consequences,” he said.
“Motorists must recognise that every decision they make can be the difference between life and death – it only takes a lapse in concentration or a slightly delayed reaction that could result in a loss of life.
The road rules are in place for a very good reason.
“We are extremely proud of the contribution Fatality Free Friday has played in reducing road trauma over the past ten years, but we know that more work needs to be done. We understand that road safety is a complex issue and while a single day free from any fatalities is the ultimate goal, drivers should commit to making safe choices every time they get behind the wheel,” he said.
New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said that initiatives like Fatality Free Friday have a positive impact on driver behaviour.
“Fatality Free Friday continues to make significant steps towards creating safer roads, however there is still more work to be done to steer Australia’s driving culture in the right direction – and we are determined to crackdown on irresponsible behaviours that ultimately result in tragedy.
“We are pleased to support the Australian Road Safety Foundation in spreading the road safety message far and wide, and hope to see all road users join forces to achieve the milestone of zero road fatalities,” Assistant Commissioner Hartley said.
More than 1271 people lost their lives on Australian roads last year, and so far this year 432 people have died.
Fridays are one of the most deadly days, with an average of four deaths on this day each week.
Many of these lives were taken in crashes that could have been avoided, so Fatality Free Friday is about drivers taking more care to obey road rules and concentrate on what is happening around them.
In the past decade, hundreds of thousands of people have signed on to be part of the day. The hope is that not only is today a fatality free day on our roads, but that road users will continue to be more attentive and safer drivers every day.
To take part, visit www.fatalityfreefriday.com and agree to the pledge below.
Join forces to beat road trauma and take the pledge for Fatality Free Friday by promising to:
1. Always be fit to drive
Alarmingly, more than a quarter (27%) of the population doesn’t give any consideration to how consuming over-the-counter or prescription medications might affect their driving ability. Always ask your Pharmacist or GP whether your medication is safe to drive on and consider other factors that may impair your ability to drive safely (e.g. medical conditions, fatigue, alcohol consumption)
2. Stay focussed on the road
Distractions and loss of concentration while driving are major risks. Keep your eyes on the road and minimise distractions such as talking to other passengers, using a mobile phone, eating or applying make-up. Also be mindful of when you begin to tire and pull over for a rest every 2 hours on long journeys.
3. Scan the road ahead
Scanning the road ahead is a key hazard perception skill that allows drivers to make adjustments in advance. To detect hazards before they become a problem, ensure that you have a 360 degree view using your windows and mirrors, and also being mindful of blind spots by doing a head check when required.
4. Keep a safe distance
Keeping a safe distance between yourself and other users reduces the risk of collision if you have to make any sudden movements. Keep at least one metre between yourself and other vehicles on your left and right and give cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians plenty of room.
5. Drive to suit the conditions
If driving during inclement weather, drivers should be mindful of reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces, and adjust their driving accordingly – by turning on headlights, reducing speed, avoiding sudden stops and increasing the following distance between yourself and the car in front of you. The same adjustments are recommended for heavy traffic areas.