Qld road death toll rises to highest in years
The heartbroken parents of a young man who killed four people and himself in a horror crash have pleaded with motorists to change their driving habits, as Queensland's road toll is set to be the highest in almost a decade.
Queensland's official road toll was yesterday 254, which was 45 more than the same time last year, with the COVID lockdown not impacting countless tragedies that police say are avoidable.
Deaths in the southeastern police region have increased 140 per cent and 40 per cent in the Central region but have decreased 15 per cent in Brisbane, compared to last year.
With the toll mounting, parents Melissa and Peter McGuinness whose son who died in a crash have urged drivers to change their behaviour and habits on the roads.
Today marks eight years since Jordan Hayes-McGuinness, 18, was killed when he drove into a car broken down in the shoulder lane of the M1 after he had been drinking and smoking marijuana.
Natasha Maggs, 23, her boyfriend Allan Sullivan, 20, Tiana Williams, 17 and her boyfriend Kody Holland-Williams, 18 were also killed.
"This time of year will never, ever, be the same for the family," Mr McGuinness said.
"Our daughters, one of the things that would horrify Jordan would be that his much beloved little sisters that he doted on, have had their Christmas scarred forever."
Mr McGuinness said bad driving was often "written off to be bad luck".
"Well Jordan didn't have bad luck that night, his victims had the bad luck," he said.
"He made bad choices and had bad driving habits.
"We can rationalise the fact that we're not responsible for what he did, we understand that, but there is a very deep emotional feeling that he has left behind with all of his loved ones, of culpability and guilt."
Ms McGuinness said she could still remember the officers coming to her door in the morning before she knew about the crash.
"I will never forget looking at them and just going 'oh my god, something is drastically wrong' and our life is going to shatter," she said.
"They just said 'can we come upstairs'. My legs had just turned to jelly, I couldn't walk properly, I remember stumbling up the stairs like I was crawling."
Ms McGuinness said she loathed this period - December 1 was the last time she saw her son, on December 8 he died and on December 19 his funeral was held.
"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about the victims' families and them having to reconcile with what Jordan did," she said.
The parents, through organisation You Choose - Youth Road Safety, are trying to change the attitudes of young drivers by re-telling their family tragedy and have spoken to almost 100,000 children in schools.
Speaking of the 2020 toll, Road Policing Command acting Inspector Ian Crang said speeding, drink and drug driving, seatbelts, fatigue and driving distracted were all factors in the increase in deaths.
Despite the COVID lockdown there was still a large amount of traffic movement on the roads.
"We may have had less traffic on the road but it's the conduct of the people on the roads that can be the causal factor to why it has occurred," he said.
Insp Crang said police continued enforcement activities throughout COVID including random breath testing and catching speeding motorists.
"But was there a perception in people's minds that we weren't? I can't answer that I suppose."
Insp Crang urged people to take their time and plan their journeys.
Originally published as Qld road toll rises to highest in years