FAMILY members of road trauma victims were among a number of guest speakers who presented their poignant personal stories at Ballarat’s first road trauma forum on Tuesday night.
More than 130 people attended the forum at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts.
The seminar, which also had presentations from emergency services crew, doctors and police, focused on educating drivers on the main triggers of accidents, including the risks of using a mobile phone, the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and of being distracted while driving.
Ballarat mother Bev Bassar’s daughter Rhiannon was just 18 in 2003 when she was the passenger in a high-speed car crash.
Rhiannon’s boyfriend was drunk at the time of the accident and had ploughed his speeding car into a tree.
Ms Bassar said she still remembered the knock at the door at 6am when police arrived to tell her that Rhiannon had been rushed to hospital.
“It was every parent’s worst nightmare,” said.
“That moment and the years following absolutely devastated our family.
“I had to leave my job and travelled to Melbourne every day for six months. It was a long recovery process and Rhiannon as we knew her died that day.”
Rhiannon was severely injured in the accident and as a result has an acquired brain injury and paralysis to the left side of her body. Ms Bassar remains her daughter’s full-time carer.
Another guest speaker, George Greaves, spoke about years following the death of his brother Craig, who was struck by a drunk-driver while riding his motorbike in Melbourne’s north in 1995. Craig was 24.
“We’ve never been the same,” he said. “It absolutely destroyed us. The people who die aren’t the only victims – it is also the loved ones.”
Road Trauma Support Service Grampians co-ordinator Lorraine Yeomans said the forum, organised by Road Trauma Support Services and Victoria Police, was about minimising risk on the roads to maximise the safety of all road users.
“For every person who is a victim of road trauma, there are at least another 20 people who are impacted, “she said.
“There is a ripple effect for these type of accidents.
“The devastation isn’t just the ones who die but also the ones who survive and their families who face great challenges for the rest of their lives.”