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Australia’s Danger Spots

Australian roads are getting safer. The road toll has almost halved over the past two decades, and in 2014 the rate was 4.92 per 100,000 people – the lowest since records began in 1925.

But that doesn’t mean motorists should relax. Over a thousand lives are still lost on the roads every year – and it’s estimated around one in five of these accidents involve drivers under the influence of alcohol. Last year, around 230 lives would have been saved if everybody drove sober.

Every road user can do their best not to become a statistic. Say no to drink driving.

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An outline of Australia

2015 Annual Road Toll (Jan-Jun)

in Australian states

588

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

2014 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

1,154

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

2013 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

1,187

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

2012 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

1,300

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

2011 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

1,277

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

2010 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

1,353

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

2000-2009 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

16,229

Total fatalities

An outline of Australia

1989-1999 Annual Road Toll

in Australian states

22,390

Total fatalities

An map showing Australian Capital Territory's location in Australia

Australian Capital Territory

In terms of the road fatality rate, Australian Capital Territory is the safest place in Australia to drive. However, although drink driving offences have been on the decline, the territory has suffered a recent spike in people caught driving under the influence of drugs, something that police and road safety authorities want to crack down on now and into the future.

It may be surprising to learn that, unlike the majority of Australia, it is legal to drink alcohol while behind the wheel in ACT as long as drivers stay below the legal blood alcohol limit. This is soon going to change, however, under new laws introduced by the Justice Minister in May 2015 which will bring the territory in line with the rest of the country.

Australian Capital Territory

Toll by year

47%

Drop in road toll between 2010-2014

2.6

Annual road toll rate per 100,000 people (population 385,600)

An map showing South Australia's location in Australia

South Australia

The road toll in South Australia is above the national average. In 2015, 25 sections of road in the state were identified by the national Black Spot programme to receive a share of a $16.5 million investment designed to make the roads safer for everybody.

Better roads are only a part of the puzzle. Some 34% of drivers and motorbike riders killed are over the legal blood alcohol concentration limit, with a particularly high rate among drivers aged 16-24, according to the state’s Road Safety Strategy. South Australia also had the highest rate of drink-drivers in Australia in 2014.

South Australia

Toll by year

34%

of fatalities on the road are over the legal blood alcohol limit

6.4

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people (population 1,682,600)

An map showing Tasmania's location in Australia

Tasmania

Tasmania has a higher-than-average road fatality rate, although improvements have been made over the decades. A Road Safety Advisory Council study found nearly 1,000 fewer people were killed or injured on Tasmanian roads in 2014, compared with 1977.

As in many states, Tasmania operates a mandatory alcohol interlock programme for repeat drink-driving offenders. The state also runs the Real Mates campaign, a series of TV and social media adverts that encourage young people to stop one another from driving under the influence.

Tasmania

Toll by year

51

Average fatalities (1989-2014)

6.8

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people (population 514,700)

An map showing Victoria's location in Australia

Victoria

Victoria is the most densely populated state in Australia, yet its roads are fairly safe, with fatality figures slightly below the national average. The state takes a tough stance on alcohol-related offences, with more than 12,000 Victorians each year losing their licences for driving under the influence.

As well as targeting drink-drivers, Victoria’s Traffic Accident Commission launched a safety campaign in 2015 designed to remind parents that aggressive or dangerous driving behaviours could be passed on to their children – reflecting the fact that more than a fifth of drivers killed on the state’s roads are aged between 18 and 25.

Victoria

Toll by year

381

Average fatalities (1989-2014)

4.3

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people(population 5,821,300)

An map showing Western Australia's location in Australia

Western Australia

After the Northern Territory, Western Australia has the highest road fatality rate in the country. According to analysis by the Royal Automobile Club, deaths are more likely to occur on rural roads than in metropolitan areas, while the state’s Road Safety Council estimates that alcohol is a factor in around one in five fatal crashes.

It is also concerning that the number of random breath tests in the state is falling: there were 40% fewer tests carried out by police over Easter 2015 compared with previous years. This is despite Western Australia having the second-highest rate of drink-driving offences in 2014.

Western Australia

Toll by year

199

Average fatalities (1989-2014)

7.1

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people (population 2,565,600)

An map showing New South Wales's location in Australia

New South Wales

Although it’s Australia’s most populated state, New South Wales has comparatively safe roads, coming second only to Australian Capital Territory in road fatality rate. There is still room for improvement, however: alcohol believed to be a factor in one in five fatal crashes in the state.

Since random breath testing was introduced in 1982, the road toll has decreased by more than a half. In February 2015, stricter penalties were introduced for repeat offenders, including mandatory interlock devices which disable a car until the driver passes a breath test.

New South Wales

Toll by year

538

Average fatalities (1989-2014)

4.1

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people(population 7,500,600)

An map showing Northern Territory's location in Australia

Northern Territory

Despite having the smallest population, the road fatality rate in the Northern Territory is the highest in Australia – more than three times the national average in 2014. Local authorities say the state’s young population and large amount of unsealed roads contribute to the number of deaths on the road, but speed and alcohol are also too often involved.

Drink driving, speeding and failing to wear a seatbelt are the biggest contributing factors to the NT's road toll, which claims nearly 50 lives per year. Driver fatigue can also be a problem, due to often large distances between resting-places: motorists driving through the state are advised to make sure they take regular breaks.

Northern Territory

Toll by year

53

Average fatalities (1989-2014)

16.0

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people (population 243,700)

An map showing Queensland's location in Australia

Queensland

Queensland has a road fatality rate just below the national average, although it has its share of accident black spots – with the Bruce Highway named in 2014 as one of the world’s most dangerous roads.

Alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs are the main contributors in nearly one in three fatal crashes in Queensland, according to the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety. The state operates a “Mates Motel” programme, where users can register to let friends know they’re welcome to stay over rather than drive home if they've been drinking.

Queensland

Toll by year

339

Average fatalities (1989-2014)

4.7

Annual fatality rate per 100,000 people (population 4,708,500)

Current as at 2015 indicated by Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics - www.bitre.gov.au