29 May 2020
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As one of the major trauma centres in Victoria the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) in encouraging the community to drive safely on our roads as part of the Australian Road Safety Foundation’s (ARSF) Fatality Free Friday.

Fatality Free Friday comes as children begin to return to school, a timely reminder to stay safe on our roads with statistics highlighting the busiest times for road trauma crashes is between 3-6pm, just as school finishes and work finishes.

In Australia 35 per cent of severe injuries happen over the weekend, at the RMH there is an average of eight patients per day admitted with severe injuries on those days.

The Head of Trauma at the RMH, Dr David Read who has been working as a trauma surgeon for more than 20 years, has been involved in countless surgeries with road trauma patients.

“It’s never easy telling a family or loved one that their son, daughter, husband or wife has passed away. It’s tough and terribly emotional.

“The loss of anyone hurts, but you particularly note the loss of younger people who will never reach their full potential. A day without a road fatality is indeed a beautiful thing. If only we had more of them,” Dr Read said.

To drive home the Fatality Free Friday message in the lead up, the ARSF has released its annual research report, which shows one in four drivers admit to taking increased road risks since the implementation of Covid-19 lockdowns.[1]

This is a frightening statistic, likely driven by the fact that two thirds of Australians believe the roads are safer under current conditions.

While it is expected that the road toll would reflect the lower volumes of traffic on the road, the national year-to-date road toll has only declined by 12.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.[2]

For example, the alarming research confirmed that speeding is already the most common road rule broken, with two in three Australian drivers admitting to being heavy footed. Now in Covid-19 lockdown conditions, this dangerous driving act has increased by 17 per cent.

What’s more, the most common risks being taken during Covid-19 after speeding include using a mobile phone behind the wheel (9% higher), running a red light or stop sign (5% increase), or driving after a few drinks (3% spike).

RMH Trauma Program Manager, Kellie Gumm, said trauma injuries are always a shock and someone’s life can change in the click of your fingers.

“For trauma incidents they are totally unexpected, even on a Friday they are relieved – and just in a snap of your fingers life can be changed forever. Not only that if you do survive that initial period whether you might live or die, you then have come to terms with managing long-term severe injuries,” Ms Gumm said.

[1] Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of the Australian Road Safety Foundation, April 2020, n=1,005 nationally representative by gender, age and location of Australian drivers aged 18 years and over.

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