For the past eight years, the road toll has dropped each consecutive year, but 2014 looks set to buck that trend as Victorians enter one of the deadliest times of the year for road trauma.
So far this year, 241 people have died, compared with 227 at the same time in 2013.
And more people have been injured on the roads this year. In the first four months of 2014, Transport Accident Commission data shows road injuries at a 10-year high with 2032 people hospitalised, 16 per cent more than in the same period in 2013.
As the holiday season approaches, Victorians are also entering one of the worst times of the year for road trauma.
Since 1987, December has been the second-worst month of the year for road deaths, with New Year's Eve (44 deaths), Boxing Day (43) and Christmas Day (42) among the deadliest single days for fatal collisions. A Fairfax Media analysis has also found that there have been more road deaths in the four-day period between December 23 and December 26 than any other four-day stretch.
A total of 170 people have died in road crashes during these four days since 1987, 10 more than the second-worst four-day period.
Monash University Accident Research Centre associate director Stuart Newstead said a combination of more people drink-driving over those four days, more drivers on the roads – particularly in areas they might not be familiar with – and fatigue and distractions were likely contributors to the increased number of deaths.
Road Trauma Support Services chief executive Cameron Sinclair said road deaths during holiday periods accentuated the absence of a friend or loved one.

He said there had been a 300 per cent increase in counselling referrals during the past two years.

"The impacts of road trauma are increasing despite the reduction in the overall road toll," he said. "We can't say that people affected by road trauma recover, they just find ways of adapting to a new reality."

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said police were targeting the "fatal five" of speed, impairment, distraction, fatigue and seatbelts this holiday season. 

The first phase of police's Summer Stay campaign, which aimed to remove drug and alcohol-affected drivers from the roads, concluded this month and nabbed 1247 drink-drivers (about 52 a day) and 338 drug drivers (14 a day) statewide over the 24-day operation. He said the "insidious" drug ice was the most commonly detected illicit drug, showing up in 78 per cent of those with illegal substances in their system.
Fairfax Media previously reported a record number of road deaths in Victoria were linked to ice last year, with police linking 18 fatalities to the drug.
TAC road safety manager Samantha Cockfield said she was sad that 2014's road toll was tracking ahead of last year's figure.
"People died who didn't need to. We did well last year and we can do better. We need to look to a continual improvement," she said.
"Anything greater than zero isn't really acceptable for the Victorian community."
Assistant Commissioner Hill said there had been a similar number of fatal crashes this year but more multiple deaths, noting there had been two quadruple fatalities and three triple fatalities this year compared with none last year.
In February, a couple and two of their children were killed in a collision with a truck in Melbourne's south-east, while one of the triple fatalities involved a driver high on ice speeding through an intersection in Oakleigh, killing a pedestrian and two people in another car.
Associate Professor Newstead said 2014's higher toll was possibly down to natural year-to-year variation and that it was hard to identify any major trends.
He said more cyclists and passengers had been killed this year, as well as more older road users and 21 to 25-year-olds. He said drug-affected drivers could also be a factor in the increased road toll, along with people who ignored speed limits, and drunk drivers.
For help or information, call Road Trauma Support Services on 1300 367 797.