Tags: Rotary Bribie Island. Brisbane. Queensland

The term ‘road trauma’ has become part of the modern-day language. It is used to describe both the physical and mental injuries resulting from a road accident and it affects people who are directly and indirectly involved. Those indirectly involved include friends and family of victims, those first on the scene and emergency workers – especially our police. But it also impacts on all members of society, especially when we hear of the tragic and sudden death of a young family or person – people who had their entire life before them.

Featured Image(above): Misjudgement of the braking distance

To me, a road death is always a stark reminder of the fragility of life. How quickly it is gone. There were 1,145 road deaths in Australia in 2018. Although the fatality rate per 100,000 people decreased from 6.9 in 2009 to 4.6 per 100,000 in 2018 it is still far too high. Victoria, South Australia, and the ACT achieved higher reductions over the decade. The largest reduction in road deaths was for young road users (17-25): 226 deaths in 2018, down 37.6 percent over the decade.

Despite this, the fatality rate per 100,000 of young road users remains higher than other age groups. Rotary is determined to help young drivers and has developed a Road Safety Program which is delivered each year to over 50,000 senior high school students from more than 650 participating schools across Australia and New Zealand. Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) is a road safety program designed to reduce the trauma on our roads by encouraging students to take a more responsible attitude to driving.

It is conducted by Road Safety Education (RSE) Limited, a not-for-profit community initiative delivering quality evidence-based road safety education programs to young people. With the assistance of the Rotary Club of Caboolture, the Island’s very own Bribie Rotary recently introduced RYDA to Year 11 students at Bribie Island State High School (BISHS).

The first training day was held on Tuesday 20 August at Morayfield Sports and Events Centre and was attended by 123 students and 6 teachers from BISHS. Seven Rotarians from Bribie Island and at least 9 from Caboolture Rotary Clubs assisted on the day. Students were divided into groups of approximately 20 and attended six interactive sessions delivered by RSE Trainers.

Your humble scribe was the Volunteer Leader for the Yellow Group and moved through the Sessions in the following order:

1. Drive SOS. The Session demonstrated the importance of seeing the road from all perspectives and how this helps you to Drive So Others Survive.

2. Genevieve’s Story. Showed how ‘a good and careful driver’ lost her life through a decision to overtake. It taught participants about decision making and understanding your mind state.

3. Road Choices (jointly with Blue Group). Demonstrated the dangers of risk-taking and that penalties for law-breaking are not just about fines and demerit points. They can lead to criminal charges which can impact on future careers and overseas travel.

4. The ‘I’ in Drive. Taught students to know themselves better, be their own coaches and to have a plan for risky situations.

5. Speed & Stopping. Demonstrated stopping and safe following distances, the importance of good quality tyres and the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) car safety ratings. I remember my husband telling me of an advanced driving course he did. He had to stop a car at 60 kph – without knowing when – on a twisting road that had been deliberately heavily watered. He said it was extremely stressful. I could not believe this – 60 kph? Not being allowed to use the brake until the flag dropped – not knowing when he had to stop. Yet today we have people travelling at 110 kph in wet weather barely 2 or 3 metres behind each other.

6. Crash Investigations (jointly with Blue Group). Gave information about what to do at a crash scene, fatigue tips, understanding crash factors and identifying ways the Safe System (Safe Speeds, Safe Vehicles, Safe Road Users and Safe Roads and Roadsides) can be strengthened.

A speaker told her story and the students were able to ask her how the Safe System protected and/or failed her. Some very powerful, and some quite confronting, messages came out of each session. Participants were taught to change the way they think about road safety. I am sure RYDA has helped lay the groundwork for safe road use throughout their lives.

And I know that they learned the importance of having Road Sense – ‘the offspring of courtesy and the parent of safety’ (Australian Traffic Rule). You often don’t get a second chance on the road, so take your time. In her email to me, I think Ms Holzwart’s Principal at BISHS, summed up the day by saying ‘the students valued the experience and the staff was enthused by the organisation and the great experience for the students. It is such a positive step towards road safety.’

Our thanks to Rob and Lurline Whyllie, President Steve Baker and the team from Caboolture Rotary for their excellent organisation and assistance. Also, a big thank you to the P & C, Ms. Kerri Holzwart, and Ms. Sharyn Bryce from BISHS for their commitment and support. Ms. Bryce’s organising skills were very evident with her colour coded sheets and the fact that the students arrived in their allocated groups.

Indeed, no mean feat. A Tommy Lasorda (MLB Pitcher, Coach and Manager) quote is relevant here. He said, ‘Baseball is like driving, it’s the one who gets home safely that counts.’ So – next time we all go out on the road – let’s all “get home safely” (and, unlike baseball, ensure the other guy does too)!

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