(Image: Private Media)

Traffic is a distant memory. The roads are empty. You can’t take an interstate road trip. There are no tourists piloting rental cars along the wrong side of the road. For most of the year of 2020 you haven’t been able to go to the pub let alone drive home drunk. 

So you might expect a welcome side-benefit of the COVID-19 crisis would be a big fall in the road toll. Not so.

Australians continue to die on roads. Deaths are down a modest 8.5% on the average of the previous five years, not that much better than the usual annual downtrend of -4.4%.

This data — from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics — shows April is the only month of the year where road deaths hit a record low. Deaths were down about 20% compared with the average of the past five years.

Of course petrol sales fell 43% in April, suggesting the number of kilometres driven was far lower than normal. Sad news for all the families involved. The silver linings in this COVID cloud are faint and hard to find.

Peter Fray

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