The number of cyclist deaths in Australia has doubled over the last three years, according to a new report examining the country's road safety record for 2020.
In the 12 months to June 2020, 48 cyclists died on Australian roads, compared to 34 deaths in the previous corresponding period – a year-on-year increase of more than 40 per cent.
According to the latest Australian Automobile Association (AAA) Benchmarking Road Safety report, cyclists were the only road user group to record an increase in fatalities over that period.
In a statement, AAA managing director Michael Bradley described the recent cyclist death rate as "an alarming spike".
As for other road users – driver fatalities recorded a decline of 4.7 per cent from June 2019-20 compared with June 2018-19, passenger deaths declined by 17.5 per cent over the same period, pedestrian deaths declined by 14.4 per cent and motorcyclist deaths declined by 5.4 per cent.
Motorcyclists are the group with the second-highest rate of road fatalities after drivers, with 194 motorcyclists killed on Australian roads over the 12 months to June 2020, while passengers are the third most at-risk group with 184 deaths in the same period.
Comparatively, 528 drivers and 149 pedestrians lost their lives on the nation's roads over the same 12-month period.
Overall, Australia's road fatalities decreased by 14.6 per cent from the March quarter of 2020 to the June quarter of 2020.
However, despite this decrease, Australia is still not on track to achieve targets stipulated in the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS).
"The reduction in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic is almost certainly responsible for putting a small dent in Australia’s road toll. But it should not take a virus to stop the scourge of fatalities on our roads," Mr Bradley said.
"Even with this recent decrease, in part driven by the effects of COVID-19, this report confirms that the life-saving targets that all governments agreed to in 2011 as a part of the 10-year National Road Safety Strategy, are unlikely to be met by the agreed deadline of December this year.
"The Strategy will almost certainly fail to meet its objective to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 30 per cent by the end of 2020. This failure is reflected across the nation, with not a single state on a trajectory to meet this road trauma reduction target."
According to statistics released by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), there were 78 deaths on Australia's roads in June 2020 – a reduction on the five-year average of 98 deaths.
All states bar Queensland recorded a decline in the number of road fatalities in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019. Queensland's six-month road toll rose by more than 18 per cent compared with 2019.
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