Victoria saw a more than 10 per cent jump in road fatalities in 2021 compared to 2020, as the government urges Victorians to return to public transport.
- Victoria recorded 236 road deaths in 2021, up from 211 in 2020
- Victoria Police say incidents of both speeding and drink driving have increased
- The opposition has criticised the government for increase public transport fares from today
Victoria recorded 236 road deaths in 2021 with accidents on metropolitan roads cited as a major contributor to the increase.
Incidents on metropolitan roads led to 117 deaths compared with 84 in 2020.
While the total fatality tally was the third-lowest on the record, Minister for Road Safety and Public Transport Ben Carroll said the figure was disappointing given reduced road use during the pandemic.
"This is despite our streets being quieter coming out of lockdown and COVID," he said.
"This comes down to behaviour choices we all make."
In contrast, regional Victoria saw fewer road accidents, recording its second-lowest number of lives lost on record with 119 deaths compared with 126 in 2020.
The government's proposed Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 aims to halve deaths by 2030 and put the state on a path to eliminate all road deaths by 2050.
Minister Ben Carroll said 36 Victorians who died in road accidents were not wearing seatbelts.(ABC News)Speeding still a 'significant contributor' to fatalities
Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Glenn Weir said police had identified an "inordinate" amount of Victorians speeding on the road.
"The speed of vehicles is still a significant contributor and 20 per cent of all fatal collisions, the causation is down to speed," Assistant Commissioner Weir said.
Victoria Police also identified a spike in incidences of drink driving during the pre-Christmas period.
"We're really disturbed by the alcohol figures during the pre-Christmas operation," he said.
"The normal ratio is around 1 driver per 400 tested will return a positive alcohol test, and during that period it was around 1 to 280."
Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir said there will be a significant police presence on the roads in coming weeks.(ABC News)
Motorcyclist deaths increased to 41 from 32 in 2020, ahead of MotoCAP safety ratings being introduced for motorcycle gear.
A motorcycle accident in Craigieburn early on New Year's Day contributed to the first road Victorian road fatality of 2022.
Minister downplays public transport COVID fears
Mr Carroll said getting Victorians back onto public transport would be a priority in 2022.
Department of Transport figures show a sharp drop in public transport use during the pandemic due to lockdowns and concerns over COVID-19 transmission.
But Mr Carroll said Victoria's public transport system was cleaner than ever and safe to use.
"The evidence speaks for itself — unlike other jurisdictions, we have not had COVID outbreaks on our public transport system," he said.
Mr Carroll said public transport had undergone a "renaissance of investment" with an increase in the number of services and a range of fare investments being considered.
But Shadow Minister for Transport Steph Ryan has criticised the government for a scheduled fare increase, which will see the cost of a ticket on metropolitan services increase by 2.3 per cent on average and regional fares increase by an average of 1.1 per cent.
Public transport fares were frozen during the pandemic, and Ms Ryan said the new increase comes at the wrong time for Victorians.
"We should be encouraging Victorians to find more reasons to choose public transport, not less," Ms Ryan said.
"Higher fares put more pressure on people still struggling to make ends meet, on sick regional Victorians travelling to Melbourne for medical appointments and is less incentive for office workers to get back to the CBD."