Why our regional roads are so deadly
"COMPLACENT" and "ambivalent" locals are turning Queensland's regional and rural stretches of roads into death traps as parts of the state stare down their worst annual road tolls in years.
With dozens of families preparing to pack up their cars and potentially travel huge distances for Christmas, the state's most senior traffic cop has issued a stark warning to be careful and be remembered this festive season, not for tragedy, but for arriving alive to celebrate with loved ones.
Figures obtained by News Corp reveal the literal toll the Bruce Highway has taken in the past two years with 637 injuries and fatalities recorded along its 1652km stretch during the 2018/19 financial year.
The statewide road toll was sitting at 212 yesterday which was 17 less than this time last year, but regional parts of Queensland - particularly the Far North, Townsville and Mt Isa - were bucking the trend with 50 deaths so far - 13 more than this time last year.
Road Policing Unit Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating said the regional figures were a concern.
"It can be due to complacency, people can be quite ambivalent about their own safety and the safety of others," he said.
"There is an unacceptable level of injuries and deaths (in regional areas) where people simply aren't wearing seatbelts and these have been compulsory since the 1970s.
"It comes down to the fact that people just think 'it won't happen to me'."
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said he had noticed a spike in head-on collisions in recent months which likely equated to fatigue, speeding and distracted driving, including mobile phones.
The State Government revealed last month fines for mobile phone use behind the wheel would be increased to $1000.
"I think most people drive very safely, but there are too many people taking risks," Mr Bailey said.
"I know there will be a very strong police presence over the Christmas period."
He said there were many significant roadwork projects under way or set to begin along the Bruce Highway next year including the Edmonton to Gordonvale stretch in Cairns, the Gympie bypass, the Haughton River flood mitigation project south of Townsville and ring roads at Mackay and Rockhampton.
A total of 69 overtaking lanes were added during this year.