ROAD TOLL THIS MUST STOP
Stanthorpe road police are urging patience and focus
ATTENDING a fatality never gets easier for police.
Even with 13 years experience, officer-in-charge of the Stanthorpe Road Policing Unit, Sergeant Dan O'Dea said it got harder every time.
It’s why he wants to see zero crashes on Granite Belt roads these coming summer holidays.
“It’s horrible, one life is ruined but that affects multitudes of people,” Sgt O’Dea said.
“Their families, all the emergency services people who were involved.
“If it’s a local person... it’s worse because there’s a potential that I might know that person or their family members on a personal level.”
The official road toll for Queensland stands at 219 (as of November 26) with the Granite Belt contributing one life to that number in May.
However, Sgt O’Dea believes the number can go down to zero.
“It means people have to be focused all the time.
“Watch, not only what they’re doing, but also watch what other people are doing,” was his advice.
From December 14 through to February 1, 2019 Queensland police will be conducting a statewide operation targeting the fatal five; speeding, drink/drug driving, seat belts, distraction and fatigue.
Sgt O’Dea said fatigue was the number one killer in the Granite Belt.
“I just urge everybody to bear in mind their own fatigue, passengers to make sure the driver is a alert and to take breaks every two hours.”
“It’s also recommended not to travel when you’re normally asleep.”
He urged residents driving long distance to plan for extra travel time, have entertainment for the kids, check for road closures and, if crossing the state border, to understand any different road rules.
Most importantly he urged drivers to be patient, remembering you may not be able to travel at the speed limit with more drivers on the road.
“If you overtake that car in front of you, there’s just going to be another car in front of that.
“Best case scenario is you arrive at your destination five or 10 minutes quicker. Really is it worth the risk of putting not only yourself but the people in your car and other road users in danger?”
THEY are the 240 deaths a year we accept. The families destroyed, the children killed and the teenagers lost while drivers continue to speed, hoon, text and take the wheel while drunk.
They are Beverley Harwood and her 17-year-old daughter Olivia, killed when a truck collided with the family car. They are Sarah and Omer Mazi, whose little boy was orphaned when a speeding driver hit them head on.
They are eight-year-old Olivia Douglas, on her way to a netball tournament when she was killed in a head-on crash, glass and debris spreading across the Bruce Highway.
The pedestrians hit crossing major roads, crossing city roads. The cyclists and the motorbike riders.
The drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. Six-year-old Indie Armstrong, hit in a shopping centre carpark – her death not even counted in Queensland’s road toll because it didn’t happen on a public road.
Authorities say road users are too accepting of the hundreds of deaths that occur on Queensland roads every year and do little to change their behaviour. They say only those directly affected by road trauma care about keeping safe.
Today we begin an extensive road safety campaign, exploring the biggest risks on our roads, telling the stories of victims and the horrors witnessed by emergency services workers.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating said he was constantly stunned by the risks people were willing to take behind the wheel.
“People simply don’t see it. Or they ignore it. Or they’re blase towards the risks that they themselves face, or the risk to someone else, which is even more tragic,” he said.
“Innocent people lose their lives because somebody else has taken a risk that is unwar-
PEOPLE SIMPLY DON’T SEE IT. OR THEY IGNORE IT. OR THEY’RE BLASE TOWARDS THE RISKS THAT THEY THEMSELVES FACE, OR THE RISK TO SOMEONE ELSE, WHICH IS EVEN MORE TRAGIC.
“People ... are videotaping themselves doing high-risk activities on the road and then placing that video on some sort of social media site. Within 10 minutes, they pass away doing it again.
“And you say to yourself, how is it that you couldn’t see that that was likely?
“We see situations with people who are driving at incredibly high speeds – 200, 210km/h. And you think, how could you not foresee that that’s likely to put you in a high speed situation?”
Mr Keating said the greatest frustration for police responding to crashes was how preventable they are. He said police were often criticised for “revenue-raising” when they were the ones who saw the horror of road trauma, the horrific injuries and were responsible for knocking on the doors of families to tell them their relatives were dead.
When asked what the biggest challenge in road policing was, he said, “Speeding. If people slowed down to the prescribed speed limit, the road toll would drop dramatically.
“Overwhelmingly, speeding is the major contributing factor. And then there’s ... seatbelt, alcohol and drug driving, fatigue.
“But when you combine them with speed, that’s where you tend to end up with problems.” He said the major challenges included:
Pedestrians getting killed or seriously injured while crossing illegally or in unsafe locations;
Drivers blatantly running red lights at major intersections, resulting in horrific crashes;
Drunk or drugged drivers taking major risks.
People using mobile phones while driving, despite numerous surveys showing drivers know they are increasing their risk of causing a crash.
An increase of serious crashes on regional roads.
He said police continued to invest in new technology to catch drivers doing the wrong thing, including speed camera technology.
“It’s a voluntary program, the speed camera program,” Mr Keating said.
“All of our enforcement programs are voluntary. If you don’t want to be part of them, drive like a sensible person. But if you want to drive at 130km/h in an 80km/h zone ... we reserve the right to have technology call you to account for that.”
If people saw the horrors and carnage emergency services workers see every day, driver behaviour would change dramatically and suddenly.
“I feel like a lot of the people we go to, the injured people, are not the ones who have done something wrong. It is someone else who has caused the accident,” LifeFlight Toowoomba clinical lead Dr Chris Jarvis said.
“If they could see what we see, if they actually saw the result, particularly with highspeed crashes, people would change the way they drive. Compound fractures, people squashed up against steering wheels, legs crushed under dashboards,” firefighter Mark Hadfield said.
“I find that unless people are directly affected, they don’t think about (road trauma),” Senior Sergeant Brooke Flood said. “We are confronted by people’s stupid mistakes and left to clean up the aftermath. People will drive past a crash and say, ‘That looks terrible’ and they don’t think about it again.”