May is deadly
Merry month of May?
By Darren Goodsir, Transport Editor
April 30 2002
Be warned: you are approaching the deadliest month of the year on the roads.
Despite May having no school holidays or long weekends - usually considered to be among the riskiest periods for motorists and pedestrians - tomorrow is the start of the bleakest month for road fatalities.
The disturbing trend has Roads and Traffic Authority experts confounded. For the past six years, road deaths have been, on average, 21 per cent higher in May compared with any other month.
Intriguingly, fatal accidents involving people aged over 60 are 66 per cent higher in May, pedestrian deaths rise by 64 per cent, and female deaths by 39 per cent.
A detailed analysis by the RTA has revealed most May fatalities occur during the day in suburban areas with low speed limits.
They involve local drivers or pedestrians, and most commonly occur on wet roads and during the week.
Fatalities in 60kmh speed zones rise by 51 per cent compared with other months, but deaths caused by speeding, alcohol, fatigue and failure to wear seatbelts are not notably higher in May. There is, however, a 45 per cent rise in fatal crashes involving drivers from Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle in May.
Various explanations have been proffered. Perhaps drivers suffer lapses in attention after returning from holidays in April. Maybe it's seasonal, and they have trouble adjusting to the dimmer morning and afternoon light.
Even the first signs of cold or greasy roads in the wetter weather may affect the behaviour of drivers.
The RTA's director of communications, Paul Willoughby, said May fell between two holiday periods. "One possible explanation is that, while people now have a high level of awareness of road dangers in holiday time, their attention lapses when they are back on the road in normal work time," he said.
The RTA will soon launch an advertising campaign to address the deadliest month of all. More police will also be rostered to target speeding and bad driving.
Most of the ads will be aimed at elderly drivers and pedestrians, given they account for the largest rise in May road deaths.
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.