Road Toll, Whose Fault Is It?


Each day, most of us literally millions of Australian’s grab the keys to their vehicle, start the engine, select D for dream and drive off. Rarely do we batt an eyelid with regards to the complexities of driving and set off predictably in autopilot.

Most people have an inflated opinion about their own driving ability, however we know that these people don’t know what they don’t know! This level of ambivalence leads to a lack of concentration, an ease of distraction and ultimately a huge level of risk taking. Even though they most likely don’t think they are taking risks, well they are without even knowing it.

Then there is the people who think that speed limits are stupid and should be abolished, or that the public roads should be treated as their own personal racetrack. Again this over inflated self-confidence or lack of awareness makes them down right dangerous to themselves and other motorists (potentially your family).

When it all goes wrong the ripple effect of this attitude towards driving is significant, we have no idea how our actions affect people around us.

Take our brain injury sufferer and ambassador for Drive to Survive® Jarrad Ingram, Jarrad was involved in a high speed crash that he freely admits was his own fault some 10 years ago. Jarrad’s crash happened on a wet night in a Holden ute that had no electronic aides like Stability Control and he was driving way too fast for the conditions.

CAR 014

Jarrad Ingram’s Crashed Ute

He went into cardiac arrest on the way to hospital, was in a coma for 2 months and then spent 8 months in rehabilitation learning to function again. To this day he is still in rehabilitation and sadly many people were engaged to help him through this crisis, the ripple effect. Jarrad now speaks of his trauma to help others understand that driving can be very dangerous, if we take this for granted.

On that night back in 2006, Jarrad thought he was a good driver, and while he may have been, this moment of madness almost cost him his life. It took this near death experience for his attitude to change. The sad thing is, Jarrad doesn’t appear in any statistics that the media focus on, you see Jarrad survived. The road toll measures the dead ones, not the victims that survive, who now may be in life long rehabilitation. Jarrad’s work prospects are limited due to the injuries that he sustained and he relies heavily on his wonderful wife Sally who does a myriad of things to help out on a daily basis.

Tragically at the time of writing this Blog the NSW road death toll is up to 169 (31st of May2016), this is up from 135 for the same time last year. (Centre for road safety)

It may shock you to know that some 22,000 plus road users sustain injuries in road crashes each year, this is over 60 per day! Just in NSW alone and ranges from serious injuries to minor ones, but all are based on hospital entries.

At this rate, there would be someone each and every one of us knows who has been involved in some sort of road trauma.

Recently we held a VIP road safety forum where Ian Luff issued a call to action for drivers to take responsibility for their own actions. We say, don’t blame the government, the vehicle, the road or the weather for your bad driving habits or lack of knowledge. Only you can control your behaviour, the police can’t be there to make sure each and everyone of us wears their seat belt, or that we don’t get on the drink and then choose to drive or that we are not being distracted by that annoying text message.

Like the police or hate them, they do have a role to play, but we must stop blaming them for the road toll, or for the extra police patrols we see on our highways, they are just doing their job and to their credit think they are making a difference. Speed cameras on the other hand in my opinion do very little to ensure drivers make better choices, but governments will argue otherwise.

Sadly we know this isn’t the case, for the first time in a long time the road toll is rising, so is the injury rate. Time has come for all drivers to actually switch on their thinking when they get behind the wheel, focus on the only task that matters at that time, driving!

This is not a push for our business of driver training, but the fact remains, people make very common mistakes every time they drive, eventually their luck runs out and they crash. It is as simple as that. However with proper driving competency, you will have a greater chance of survival. If you can reduce your risk, turn a fatal crash into a minor crash, or a minor crash into hopefully a near miss! Isn’t that a better outcome?

Accidents Don't Happen

Hands on experience is gaining knowledge

You don’t know what you haven’t been taught, how could you, it is simply not possible.

When we cut through the rubbish that people go on about, we break it down to one very simple issue, drivers become oblivious to the danger they are facing each day, due to familiarity and it does breed contempt. This contempt unfortunately leads to the 22,000 plus injuries being sustained on our roads each year.

Again, why let your young inexperienced kids go out driving on their P Plates in a vehicle with a lack of safety equipment?

The things you should insist they have at a minimum are: –

  • Air Bags
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Anti-locking braking systems (ABS)
  • Preferably 5 star safety rated

Having worked with the likes of Hyundai you can get a new vehicle on finance for around $55 – $60 per week, this is a small price to pay to know your child will have the best equipment possible while driving on the road.

Remember we can’t press the reset button after the crash and go again, like with X-Box or PlayStation.

I can’t begin to delve into the complexities of safe driving in this blog, but I hope I have opened your eyes to the risks we take and sometimes take for granted.

Safe Driving.

Stewart Nicholls

Business Development Director – Drive to Survive

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