Rural road safety month has had a horror start after two teenagers were killed and two children seriously injured in the latest of a string of fatal crashes.
Two off-road motorbikes were involved in the crash at Grangefields on the outskirts of Melbourne, on Father's Day evening.
A 43-year-old man, the father of one of the teenagers, was also taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after he lost control of a quad bike as he responded to the crash.
Thirteen people nationwide have died on roads outside major cities in the first three days of September, according to police reports.
Three men died in separate single vehicle crashes overnight on Saturday, two in regional Victoria and one on the NSW mid-north coast.
It comes amid a rising road toll nationwide, up 8.4 per cent in the 12 months to July 2023 according to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport Research Economics.
Lives lost on South Australian and NSW roads rose by more than 20 per cent on the previous 12 month period.
Bucking the trend was the ACT, Tasmania and Northern Territory where the road toll was reduced by more than 20 per cent.
Deaths on rural roads made up almost two thirds of the 2022 road toll despite fewer than a third of the population living outside of major cities, according to the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF).
September is rural road safety month and new research from the ARSF revealed half of drivers admitted to lawbreaking behaviour on country roads.
This included speeding (41 per cent), using a mobile phone (13 per cent) and crossing a double line (11 per cent).
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Drowsiness was also a concerning finding with one in 10 drivers experiencing a microsleep - where they were awake but unable to recall driving.
ARSF founder Russell White said the findings were deeply concerning given the tragic number of road fatalities so far in 2023.
"It is disheartening to discover that nearly one third of Australian drivers persist in taking unnecessary risks under the false assumption of safety, which may be a critical factor for why Australian roads are becoming deadlier," he said.
"It's also worrying to see the number of Australians partaking in drowsy driving.
"Despite Australians being well aware of the dangers we continue to see them engage in this perilous dance with disaster, jeopardising not just their own lives but the lives of others on our roads."
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