As of Wednesday evening, 146 people have died on Queensland’s roads in 2022, up 17 from this time last year.
- Higher speeds, not wearing seatbelts and inattentiveness have increased over the past six months
- Police announce road safety summit involving government and other stakeholders will be held
- Police and lawyers say drugs and alcohol often play a role
The 301 people who died on Queensland’s roads in 2021 represent the worst toll since 331 deaths in 2009.
The murderous driving behavior of some motorists has left the Queensland Police Commissioner “stunned” as authorities are unable to explain why the state’s road death toll continues to rise.
Higher speeds, failure to wear seat belts and inattentiveness have increased over the past six months, and Queensland could have one of its worst road tolls in years, Commissioner Katarina Carroll has said .
Commissioner Carroll said after the pandemic there were more police and technology on the roads to detect “people doing the wrong thing” than ever before.
“The behavior is something we’ve never seen before – not just here, but my colleagues across the country are reporting the same, and around the world,” she said.
She said a road safety summit would be held involving the community, government and stakeholders to “get an idea of why and how can we change this”.
“We’re all struggling with this, so I implore, as do my people constantly because we’re still out there, to please, when you’re on the road, follow these rules of the road, be responsible for yourself -self, pay attention to others,” she said.
The summit hopefully a starting point for change
Figures from the Queensland Police Service (QPS) show fixed cameras have detected up to a 53% increase in the number of people speeding in parts of the state since January, with many leading to more than 40 kilometers per hour over the speed limit.
“We were hoping this trend would reverse, but it hasn’t,” Road Policing Command acting chief superintendent Ray Rohweder said.
He said areas in southern, south-west and central Queensland, such as the Darling Downs and Mackay, had the highest rates of road deaths despite significant police resources.
Shine Lawyers Special Counsel Kylie Carson has experienced much devastation in her role as a representative for clients affected by traffic fatalities over the past 16 years.
She said it could change people’s lives in the “blink of an eye” with no chance of saying goodbye when their loved ones are taken from them.
“As someone acting for these clients, I go home and reflect – you live your life at one point, and tomorrow it could be gone and totally different,” Ms Carson said.
“I think it makes it worse when it’s just not an accident, when there are other things that have happened that are completely avoidable – alcohol, drugs, high speeds.”
Ms Carson said she hoped all data on the causes and factors of road deaths would be thoroughly reviewed before the road safety summit was held.
“You can’t fix something if you don’t know where to start,” she said.
An Australian dream cut short
A Brisbane family reeling from such a loss is the widow and young son of 36-year-old IT worker Shahid Islam, who was killed by the driver of a stolen 4×4 that rammed it on October 15 2019.
Mr Islam had been returning from cleaning and preparing his home in Griffin, north Brisbane, which he had bought with his wife, Jannatul Fardhousi.
They had bought the house for their four-year-old son so he could live near the parks and have a better lifestyle.
The move also meant they were living close to Mr Islam’s best friend Maxi Haque and his family.
“They wanted to have life like any other Australian dream: to have a house, to have children,” Mr Haque said.
“Their son doesn’t have many memories of his dad and I tried to share stories about his dad [so] that he knows he was a great human being.”
He said Mr Islam’s parents and siblings in Bangladesh also suffered.
“I think Jannatul is much better now. At first she couldn’t work for several months and there were many nights when we had to go to their house to help her…we saw her grief firsthand,” he said. said.
Ms Fardhousi remarried in March this year but it took “a lot of effort” from her family and friends to help her move on, Mr Haque said.
He described Mr Islam as a “fantastic, carefree person” who loved his family, friends and cricket.
A coroner’s findings into the crash released to Mr Islam’s family last month revealed that the driver of the stolen SUV, Jordan Cubby, had told police he had no recollection of killing his passenger and friend, John Weatherall, or Mr. Islam.
Cubby was driving on the wrong side of the Gympie Arterial Road in Bald Hills when the vehicle slammed into Mr Islam’s car just before midnight.
Cubby also seriously injured a second passenger, Shantelle Lucas.
State Coroner Terry Ryan said Cubby, Weatherall and Lucas had “significant criminal histories.”
Mr Ryan said police called off an attempt to intercept the stolen SUV seven minutes before the collision.
He said the officers’ actions were legal, reasonable and justified.
CCTV footage showed Cubby narrowly avoided hitting two oncoming cars before killing Mr Islam.
Mr Ryan said blood taken from Cubby showed high levels of methylamphetamine and amphetamine, but no alcohol.
“I had some ice cream. I got it in town. I had some heroin. Probably an hour before the crash,” Cubby said in the police interview.
Mr Ryan said Cubby told police he wanted to ‘apologize to the poor person he ran into’.
Cubby was jailed in 2020 for more than 14 years on two counts of manslaughter and several other offences.