The most common causes of road accidents

Knowing some of the leading causes of road accidents in Australia can help you to identify risks and stay safer on the road. We examine some of the most common causes of car accidents in Australia.

Major causes of road accidents in Australia

According to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication, from December 2019 to November 2020, there were 1,132 road deaths in Australia. The National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) has identified The Fatal Five. In 2016, the majority of road fatalities in Australia were caused by fatigue, speeding, intoxication, failure to wear a seatbelt, distraction/inattention. Below we cover some of the car crash statistics for Australia.


Driving while tired can have some severe effects. For example, NRSPP states that 25 per cent of fatal crashes on roads involve fatigue. Driver fatigue is four times more likely to be a contributing factor in impairment than drugs or alcohol. Never drive while tired. Remember to take plenty of breaks and regularly swap drivers if possible when driving long distances. Try not to drive during times when you’d usually be sleeping, and if you begin to feel tired, pull over and take a break (or have a nap).


According to the NRSPP, speeding is the single largest contributor to death on our roads. Thirty-two per cent of road fatalities in Australia have speeding as a contributing factor. Even small speed increases can cause problems. The Road Accident Research Unit found that a person’s risk of being involved in a road casualty doubles with each 5km/h increase above 60km/h, and a simple 5km/h reduction can mean at least a 15 per cent decrease in crashes. Speeding is dangerous for both you and those you share the road with. Regularly check your speed, and slow down for appropriate road and weather conditions.


30 per cent of road traffic deaths in Australia involve alcohol (NRSPP). More than 1 in 4 riders and drivers killed on our roads have a BAC above the legal limit. Driving under the influence of alcohol can cause various effects, including a reduced ability to judge distance and speed, impaired vision, and slower reaction times. But it’s not just alcohol; driving under the influence of drugs is also a danger. You should also know the effects of any prescription or over-the-counter medication and whether it can impact driving. Consult with your doctor if you’re unsure about the effects of your medication. Think about how you’ll be getting home safely before you head out, and if you think you might have had too much, don’t drive.

Failure to wear a seatbelt

CARRS-Q states that unrestrained vehicle users are eight times more likely to die in a road crash than those who are restrained. Wearing a seatbelt that is properly adjusted reduces the risk of serious injury or fatality by as much as 50 per cent. While failure to wear a seatbelt isn’t a cause of accidents, it does seem to have an impact on the chances of a fatality occurring.

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There are many different forms of distraction while driving. Distraction can include:

  • Looking at a phone.
  • Not looking at the road.
  • Thinking about other things.
  • Interrupting noises.
  • Removing your hands from the wheel.

The NRSPP reports that at least 20 per cent of all fatalities involve driver distraction. Avoid distractions as much as possible when driving. This includes ensuring you don’t touch your phone while driving, telling your passengers if they are distracting you, adjusting your mirrors and seat before you head off, and keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

Sadly, accidents can happen even when precautions are taken. At Australia Post, you can find the right cover for you and your situation. View our Car Insurance options for more information on the available policies.

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