A recent editorial has certainly given food for thought in arguing that it is crime not accidents which are driving some of the worst and the most pointless episodes of road carnage.
While there are elements of human and environmental error which are driving many of the fatalities on regional roads, the point being made here is that there are also many cases which are no “accidents” at all but rather the almost predictable outcome of highly risky, selfish and illegal behaviour.
The human consequence of this tragedy could not be more starkly put than by Rodney Price, who lost his son Nathaniel in the 2015 New Year’s crash at Mt Mercer
Gemma Sargent may have been sentenced to eight years for the dangerous driving this week but Rodney Price, his family and so many others must go on living with this senseless waste for a lifetime.
Speaking to the Courier, Mr Price described the lasting nature of this grief and the absence of his son, exacerbated by its pointlessness and avoidability, as like a lingering sickness.
“Our psyche was not designed to bury our children. I can’t put in words how I feel and how we all feel, it’s an emotional cancer”
But Mr Price has also had the courage, while dealing with his grief, to speak publicly in the hope that just one family, speaking to their teenage children and cutting through with the safety message that driving is a responsibility not a right, might avert a tragedy. His words are simple but powerful.
“There is a wider lesson to learn across the board and not just for young drivers but all drivers. It just takes a foolish decision and you can destroy not only your own life but so many lives; Nathaniel’s gone but it’s not just him, it’s his family, his friends, he won’t ever have kids or get married, there is a massive ripple effect. I don’t want anybody to go through this.”
But speeding and reckless behaviour are just the beginning. Drink driving, despite the three decade long message of its dangers, fails to be converted into real action with some young and quite a few older drivers. Drug driving could be said to be even worse, adding the same self deluding bravado with other mind altering substances. But it doesn't even need to be as nefarious as this. Mobile phone use continues to be a major problem. One text message to send, one facebook post to check and the same driver could have wiped out a cyclist or a child outside a shcool. Is it worth it?