CRACKDOWN: Darling Downs police are launching a holiday traffic operation targeting the Fatal Five.
CRACKDOWN: Darling Downs police are launching a holiday traffic operation targeting the Fatal Five. Bev Lacey

21 lives lost in 15 crashes across Darling Downs this year

SPEEDING and drug driving remains the leading contributing factors to Darling Downs road deaths after a horrific year on our highways.

Twenty-one lives were lost in 15 horror smashes across the Darling Downs region this year.

Investigations have revealed that speeding was the leading cause, contributing to 40 per cent of the fatalities, followed closely by drug driving at 33%.

The alarming statistic will see the region's police out in force for the Christmas road safety campaign with a greater focus put on drug testing at random.

"These substances cause major dramas on our roads so we want to make sure we're getting the message out there that drink and drug driving is a high risk factor at this time of year," Toowoomba police Acting Senior Sergeant Jeremy Sheldrick said.

A recent high profile drug blitz outside Warwick highlighted the alarming rates of drivers taking risks behind the wheel, endangering not just their own lives, but those of other motorists.

"It's a trend we're finding across the state," Act Snr Sgt Sheldrick said.

"It's fairly recent that we've started targeting (drug driving) with the new technology that has come online for us, and it's only going to make testing more prevalent for us."

He said road deaths have not been limited to the major highways such as the Cunningham, Gore or Warrego.

Three people were killed at Pittsworth, two each at Laidley and Jondaryan.

Crashes at Cambooya, Crows Nest, Gatton, Goombungee, Helidon and Oakey have claimed the lives of at least one person each.

"It's right across the board," Act Snr Sgt Sheldrick said.

"It's not limited to any one part of the region so that's why our focus is on getting out and about."

Highways, however, remain the biggest killers with seven deaths recorded in the region this year.

"The Gore and the Warrego are the standouts but we've also had four deaths just on other major roads in the area and another four that have happened on either remote or minor (or dirt) roads.

"Across the board, when you look at the volume of traffic going through, the smaller roads are over represented."

Thirteen of the 15 deaths have been in 100kmh zones, suggesting to police that the first of the Fatal Five had not sunk in with drivers.

"That's pretty significant that 87% (of road deaths) have been occurring in 100kmh speed zones so speed was obviously a factor in a lot of those," Act Snr Sgt Sheldrick said.

"Of those crashes, 40% have been speed related, alcohol or drugs are at 33% and inattention is another big one, at 60%.

"Drugs have been a factor in five of the 15 fatalities."

The message from police this Christmas was clear and simple.

"Be aware that traffic enforcement is again going to be high on our agenda at this time of year," Act Snr Sgt Sheldrick said.

"That's not just going to be our uniform high visibility stuff, it's also going to be the covert and targeted policing as well.

"Do the wrong thing, you will get caught."



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