Impact of COVID-19 on road crashes in Australia

This paper examines the impact on road crashes and fatalities across Australia as a result of the initial stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, when national restrictions were imposed. This analysis provides insights into the pattern of fatal crashes during the period of March to August 2020 and compares this to the same period from 2017 to 2019. At the time of writing this report, vehicle-kilometre-travelled data were not available across Australia from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Petrol volume sales, traffic counts and other available data were used as proxy indicators of the change in driving exposure. The reported 20% to 30% reduction in traffic using the network across Australia was not accompanied by a commensurate reduction in fatal crashes and fatalities across the network. The analysis revealed that while petrol sales declined by 21% nationally, the number of fatal crashes declined by only 10%. In Queensland, where petrol sales declined by over 17%, there was an increase in fatal crashes. Fatalities among drivers (–5%), passengers (–11%), pedestrians (–20%) and motorcycle riders (–12%) decreased during the COVID lockdown, but pedal cyclist fatalities across Australia increased by 29%. Due to the small numbers of crashes and short period of analysis, many of the changes reported may not be statistically significant, but the investigation does provide valid insights into apparent changes in the profile of risk during the COVID lockdown period, including an increased risk to pedal cyclists and a non-linear relationship of fatal crash risk with proxy measures of driving exposure. The insights gathered from this investigation highlight that lower traffic volumes alone do not lead to commensurate road safety outcomes.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 8p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01759811
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB Group Limited
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 9 2020 8:53AM