The faces of our road toll terror
SHOCKED police fear further deaths in an already tragic year on Queensland roads amid a spike in traffic offences that officers are describing as "hard to believe".
Despite the state's road toll reaching 126 as of yesterday - 18 deaths higher than this time last year - police have seen a huge spike in the number of people speeding or driving while alcohol or drug-affected, even though there has been less traffic on the roads in recent months.
About 30 people have been killed since Queensland roads reopened to long-distance travel on June 1.
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE A LIST OF THE PEOPLE TRAGICALLY KILLED ON QUEENSLAND ROADS THIS YEAR
Road Policing Command Superintendent Dave Johnson said police were shocked at some of the behaviour - including cases where motorists had menaced marked police cars at speed.
He said he himself pulled over a young woman swerving across the M1 to discover she had been updating her Facebook status while travelling at 100km/h.
"We think there is a larger than normal number of people choosing not to obey the road rules because they believe there is a lack of police on the road," he said.
He said police suspected the suspension of roadside breath testing during the height of the pandemic gave some drivers the impression that there were no police monitoring their behaviour.
Operation Cold Snap, which is run each year during the winter school holidays, was showing massive spikes in motorists speeding, and those driving while drunk.
Supt Johnson said another operation targeting traffic offences would be run when children return to school, with officers very concerned that kids would be at risk of being run down.
"Our trends are showing us an alarming increase in speeding across the board," he said. "And when I compare our figures to when we ran Operation Cold Snap last year, we are seeing a 20 per cent increase in the number of drink drivers over the same period as last year."
Supt Johnson said police had caught 617 drunk drivers in the first 13 days of the operation, compared to 518 over the same period last year.
Even more alarming was that one in three people tested for drug driving - which is generally targeted rather than random testing - was showing a positive result.
"The consequences of all this behaviour is so severe. We are seeing more people dying on our roads, but there are also more people being left with life debilitating injuries," Supt Johnson said.
"We have seen limbs amputated, serious head injuries, people who will be in rehabilitation for years."
Sergeant Steve Gollan spent two years of his 20-year career as a forensic crash investigator.
"I probably investigated about 100 fatal and serious injury crashes in those two years," he said.
"When you go to these crashes, the human brain can handle seeing it, but you need time to recover from it. Your brain needs time to heal.
"I can still picture every person from every fatal crash I've been to."
Sgt Gollan said one investigation that stayed with him was the death of a young woman in a single vehicle crash near Toowoomba.
He said it was his job to determine why her car had lost control and hit a tree on an open country road.
"You look at whether there might have been any distractions, were they listening to really loud music?" Sgt Gollan said.
"I popped the CD out and she had been listening to her wedding compilation.
"When we tracked her husband down, we found out she had only been married for two weeks.
"It was really sad. It just stuck with me."
Sgt Gollan said people should understand the consequences of their behaviour when making the decision to break the law on the road.
"People are so measured in their everyday lives but when it comes to driving a car they are so complacent," Sgt Gollan said. "They don't realise they are driving a one-tonne missile."
Supt Johnson said drivers should be warned that police would be out in force, both during the school holidays and when students returned to the classrooms.
"There will be an increased police presence right across the state, on major highways, on rural roads. We're increasing our RBT capability," Supt Johnson said.
"We hope that people have a pleasant experience with police and drive away safely if pulled over by an RBT - but we will leave no stone unturned if you are doing the wrong thing."
QUEENSLAND FATALITIES SINCE OUR LOCKDOWN WAS EASED
● A newborn baby dies following a single vehicle crash south of Mackay. A man and woman were travelling on the Bruce Highway at St Lawrence when their car collided with a guard rail. The woman, who was pregnant, was flown to Rockhampton Hospital. Just before 7pm, the woman gave birth and the child passed away a few hours later.
● A woman, 23, from Bald Hills, is involved in a high-speed highway crash north of Brisbane. She was the driver of a silver Mitsubishi Lancer that crashed near the Bruce Highway southbound on-ramp of Dohles Rocks Rd at Griffin just before 2am on June 8. She died in hospital on June 17.
● A woman, 29, dies in a single motorcycle crash in Ipswich. Her male passenger, 31, is seriously injured.
● A man 21, and woman, 17, both from Maryborough, die when their car collides with a truck on the Bruce Highway at Torbanlea.
● A man, 34, dies following a motorcycle crash in Heathwood.
● A man, 93, dies after being hit by a cyclist at Burpengary while walking along the footpath of Burpengary Service Rd.
● A woman, 74, dies after a two-vehicle crash at Tinana.
● A man, 92, dies when he falls off his mobility scooter after a collision with a car going through a roundabout on Geddes St, Toowoomba.
● A man, 70, dies after being by a vehicle at a Cairns shopping precinct.
● John Pratt, 63, dies after falling from his quad bike in a crash at Pikes Creek.
● A man, 32, dies in a single vehicle traffic crash on the Warrego Highway at Glenore Grove.
● A woman, 51, dies in a head-on crash at Bakers Creek in the South Burnett.
Originally published as The faces of our road toll terror