Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Gone Too Soon, Australia’s Young Driver Epidemic

13 Jan 2012Hundreds of people die from horrific motor vehicle accidents each year on Australian roads. Most of these accidents are a result of speeding. And, they are almost always preventable. Those who aren’t killed in car crashes are either left with permanent injuries or disability, or have a lifetime of grieving to do after the loss of a loved one.

A large percentage of fatal crashes involve young drivers, under the age of 25. Why is this? In Australia in the last ten years, testing criteria to gain your licence has become stricter, and the amount of time a young person remains on a provisional licence has increased from one year, to three, and a curfew has been instated to prevent provisional licence holders driving with passengers after a certain time, but fatalities have only decreased a small amount.

Despite large amounts of tax payer money being spent on expensive road safety advertising, the latest message from teens is that they are listening to these ads, but they are not hearing them, and the messages are just not getting through.

After noticing a large amount of my friends posting a link on Facebook in recent days, about a story that was aired on an Australian news program, about road safety and the epidemic that is claiming the lives of far too many young people, I had to share it, because I feel that it’s so important for this message to reach as many people as possible. Hopefully one day, the messages will be not only listened to, but also heard.

The heartbreaking story of two teenage girls, who needlessly died in 2011, was aired on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night current affairs program in February last year. It tells the tale of how six young people from Maitland in NSW, took a joy ride, late at night, and only four came home.

The sedan that they were travelling in was only meant to hold five passengers, but they squeezed in an extra passenger. They weren’t wearing seatbelts. The driver was seen reaching speeds of 150km/h, and when he approached a slight bend, he lost control of the car and smashed into three large trees, killing his friend Alana, instantly, followed by another friend, Stephanie, a short time later, in hospital.

Now Stephanie and Alana’s family, friends and loved ones, are left to grieve over their senseless loss, from a combination of alcohol, speed, hormones and immaturity. But a new driver awareness program, developed in NSW’s Hunter region, is hoping to educate our young drivers, to change the way young people think and behave, when they get behind the wheel.

Michelle Davis, who lost both of her sons in a fatal car accident, when they were just 16, and 19 years old, wanted to send out her message, to warn others of what can happen when the wrong decisions are made.

Michelle is working together with members of St John Ambulance, to visit schools and discuss the dangers of driving. They are hoping that the program called ‘RoadWhyz’, will catch on, and eventually expand to all schools, around Australia.

I urge you to take a look at the story from Sunday Night, and if you know any young drivers, please make them watch it. It will open up their eyes. If we start teaching driver safety from a young age, they will grow up to be road wise adults. To watch the story, click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO5_UoGIzLg&sns=fb

When I was learning to drive, I was always told to drive defensively, and I thought I was doing that, until I got older. Now I understand what everyone meant. I’m not saying I’m a perfect driver, but every day, I see young drivers making silly decisions on the road, or speeding past me, well over the maximum limit, and I always wish I was a police officer, so I could stop them, before they end up doing irreversible damage to themselves or an innocent person.

I have always asked why cars are made to exceed the maximum speed limits by so much, when speed is one of the biggest killers on the roads. Why can’t they have a lock out system, which prevents a car from speeding? In Australia, the maximum speed limit for provisional drivers is 90 km/h, so their cars should NOT be allowed to go over that speed. Is it too difficult to put this into effect? Or are smash repair businesses and government bodies gaining too much from car crashes to do anything about it? It makes you wonder. Remember, operating a car is one of the most dangerous weapons you will ever posses, so think before you do anything.

Stephanie and Alana; friends who were killed in a tragic crash

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