Danger ahead: Warning of Christmas road carnage
A horror festive season on Queensland roads has been forecast by the state's top experts, with predictions of a spike in serious road trauma hospitalisations - and COVID-19 "freedom" is largely to blame.
The Jamieson Trauma Institute, based out of Metro North Hospital and Health Service, predicts the numbers of people admitted for acute injuries in December will jump by 27 per cent from last year. These admissions usually mean long hospital stays, extended periods of rehabilitation and often lifetime problems.
It comes as a three-year-old girl is fighting for life after being hit by a car on the Gold Coast on Sunday morning.
Police said initial investigations indicated "the girl crossed Goldmine Road in between two parked vehicles and was hit by a Toyota Corolla".
An off-duty registered nurse was at the scene and started CPR immediately and the girl was stabilised before being taken to the Gold Coast University Hospital in a critical condition.
The horror prophecy from JTI, which connects clinicians, researchers, government and industry partners, comes after studying data from the Queensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data Collection.
The institute's linear interpolation from October to December shows a steady increase of road trauma incidents and motorcyclists are particularly exposed to danger.
"My plea to Queenslanders is prove the predictions to be wrong. Be aware," trauma surgeon at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and director of JTI, Professor Michael Schuetz, said.
The doctor, who sees the devastation every week caused by serious road accident injury to both patients and families, would be delighted to have little business this Christmas.
"These injuries are often long-term, changing the lives of patients and families for years and sometimes forever," he said.
The professor said many factors play a part in road accidents but this year Queenslanders enjoying holidays at home due to the pandemic and people feeling a sense of freedom following a year of restrictions will add to the problem.
"We are likely to see more interstate visitors over Christmas this year and people might be feeling more adventurous following a tough year. Add rain and storms, speed, tiredness and the signs are not good," he said.
"Motorcyclists are vulnerable. We often see riders wearing no protective gear because it is hot and steamy. The results of this can be devastating. There is huge cost to society from road traffic injuries, never mind the personal cost. Society needs that money more than ever to get back on its feet after COVID-19."
Professor Kirsten Vallmuur, chair of Trauma Surveillance and Data Analytics at the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, said Queensland started 2020 with good road injury data, better than 2019.
"When lockdown ended that is when the numbers started to change and we saw more hospitalisations from June and July. Unfortunately we have gone downhill since then," she said.
But the latest police data shows 261 Queenslanders have died on our roads so far this year, up from 219 deaths last year.
A horror 24 hours on far northern roads has been labelled "incomprehensible" by the region's top cop, who implored people to take care leading into Christmas.
The tragic deaths included a 28-year-old, who is understood to be a father of six, and his 17-year-old passenger, who died early on Saturday morning after the dirt bike they were riding at Mt Peter collided with another bike.
The 21-year-old rider of the other bike suffered serious injuries, but is now in a stable condition in Cairns Hospital.
Far North Police Chief Superintendent Brian Huxley said the impacts would be felt even more just days out from Christmas.
"So many young lives at this time of year, it is difficult to fathom that level of loss, at a time when people are coming to the end of what has been a difficult year," he said.
"These tragedies have touched a lot of people, they are really affected. We just ask they reach out and seek support services."
Just last week, a man in his 20s died after he lost control while driving and collided with a power pole in Buderim.
Last Christmas was also marred by tragedy, including Cairns teen Lily Bingham-Coop, 17, who was killed in a fiery crash when the car she was a passenger in hit a power pole on December 17.
Cracow man Dean Walsh, 23, died when his ute flipped onto its roof in Theodore, and a 69-year-old died in a separate incident south of Mackay
Originally published as Danger ahead: Warning of Christmas road carnage