THE Hunter’s road toll is rising, and the surgeons who deal with the horror have pleaded with motorists to stop the carnage.
They spoke on Thursday of the hidden toll of seriously injured survivors, with many facing amputations, up to 25 operations and drastic reductions in their quality of life.
According to the NSW Centre for Road Safety, there were 56 fatal road accidents in the Hunter in 2011, compared to 65 in 2012, an increase of 16per cent.
Taking multiple fatalities into account, 69 lives were lost, up 11per cent from 62 the previous year.
Excessive speed was a factor in nearly half of last year’s deaths.
During the same 12-month period, the number of fatal road accidents and deaths across NSW remained almost static.
‘‘It’s important to let the community know that they are losing a lot of people, they are losing life and they are losing quality of life,’’ Dr Cino Bendinelli, the deputy director of trauma surgery at the John Hunter Hospital, said yesterday.
‘‘Many injured patients don’t do well over the long-term.
‘‘We see patients who need 20 to 25 operations.
‘‘Many are young men who cannot go back to their young families, their jobs, and their previous selves, despite maximum effort, and this is when the outcome is good.
‘‘Many die, and this is something that is preventable. We see this on a daily basis.’’
Amputations were common, he said, particularly when motorcyclists were involved, and he invited drivers not getting the road safety message to visit his ward and witness the carnage.
Dr Bendinelli joined the President of the Australian Medical Association NSW, neurosurgeon Brian Owler, who was in Newcastle yesterday and is the face of the State Government’s Don’t Rush road safety campaign, to help get the message out.
‘‘The increased number of road deaths and the higher proportion of speed-related accidents causing them in 2012 is very alarming,’’ Dr Owler said.
‘‘I hope that by presenting a united front with local doctors, we can remind people to take care on the roads.
‘‘A lot of fatal accidents are the result of good people making bad decisions while driving.’’