The roadside memorial, a beacon used to commemorate a location where the death of a person(s) has suddenly and unexpectedly taken place, the loss of life in some form of road trauma away from home. A public symbol of grief and love erected by family, friends and the community, to mark the memory of the last place on earth where a person walked in living form, before their life was tragically taken.
“When someone you love becomes a memory,
the memory becomes a treasure.”
- - Author unknown - -
How many times have you driven by one of these memorials? They seem to be an all too common sight on our roads. While they are placed to pay tribute to the victim and provide a place for loved ones to remember them, and for some, assist with the grieving process, they also serve as a timely reminder to other road users of the dangers of driving. As you drive past these memorials have you ever spared a thought for what happened, how many lives were affected and how many lives are still affected at this point in time? For those left behind the constant overwhelming sense of loss, grief and emotional suffering are immeasurable and debilitating, beyond comprehension. Ever wondered if the victim was a child, a mother, a father, a grandparent? Was the death a result of reckless driving, distracted driving, poor visibility or due to the condition of the road? Was the victim heading home after a long day at work, heading home to apologise to a loved one after an earlier argument, were they heading out for a night of fun or to celebrate an important occasion, or were they simply leaving home for 5 minutes to grab some milk from the corner store? Have you ever wondered what was going through their mind at the time of the incident...or what they were feeling when they realised the end was near? Unfortunately, each and every time we pass one of these reminders it marks the horrifying truth that a life, or lives, were lost and they didn’t reach their destination that fateful day.
Every year, over 1,200 people are killed and another 35,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads. Traffic injury is the biggest killer of Australian children under 15, and the second-biggest killer of all Australian children aged between 15 and 24. According to the World Health Organisation, on a global scale, the lives of approximately 1.35 million people are cut short every year as a result of a road traffic crash and between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries and disabilities.
The road toll is not just a number. Every death is someone’s grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister, or child. When you think about it, it’s closer to home than you realise.
In February 2012, 23 year old Sarah Frazer was driving to Wagga Wagga on the Hume Highway south of Sydney to begin her University degree when her car broke down. She pulled into the emergency breakdown lane and called for assistance. As a tow-truck driver was hooking up her car, a truck side-swiped the broken-down car and collided with the pair, killing them both instantly.
Although the driver was found guilty of dangerous driving, the road was also at fault by not meeting the standards required to allow sufficient room to pull off the road safely. Had the breakdown lane been made to the Austroads standard, Sarah and the tow-truck driver would not have been left in the line of high speed traffic.
Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group was set up by Sarah’s father Peter Frazer to ensure more lives are not lost through preventable and clearly foreseeable situations like the one that took Sarah’s life. Peter Frazer, also the Founder of National Road Safety Week, and his wife Judy, know all about the full impact of road trauma after losing their beautiful daughter, Sarah, in such a tragic and completely avoidable road crash. Through the SARAH group, with courage and determination they work hard and lead the way to bring about change as they campaign to:
Supporting Sarah - Do you want to make a donation to support SARAH’s road safety work? Your contribution will help fund SARAH’s road safety education and advocacy work to help protect all those who are vulnerable on our roads and highways.
National Road Safety Week is an annual initiative created by the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH) Group and is supported by Governments, road safety organisations and businesses across the country. Every year, Commonwealth, State and Local Governments in partnership with road safety organisations, campaigners and businesses join forces to shine a light on this deadly issue with events, safety meetings, memorials and displays of yellow ribbons - honouring those we have lost and pledging to make the roads safer for everyone through advancing road safety by highlighting the impact of road trauma and ways we can all work to reduce it. This year, National Road Safety Week took place from 6-12 May 2019, with the national launch kicking off in Brisbane on Sunday 5 May 2019 sponsored by the Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Hon. Mark Bailey and co-ordinated by Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. In recognition of this significant event, the Storey Bridge in Brisbane, as well as numerous other landmarks across Australia were lit in yellow for the duration of National Road Safety Week. Image: left to right - Hon. Minister Mark Bailey MP (Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Queensland), Peter Frazer (President, SARAH Group), Brett Hoskin (Vice Chairman, Road Accident Action Group) and Cade Turner (Business Leader for 3M’s Transportation Safety Division).
“National Road Safety Week is about looking after each other on
the road, we all need to Drive So Others Survive.”
- - Peter Frazer at the 2019 launch in Brisbane on Sunday 5th May - -
Each day of National Road Safety Week focussed on a different member of the community who can be affected by road trauma. The 2019 daily themes and messages covered:
Monday 6 May: Remember the 1200 - Today we pause at 12pm to remember the 1200 people who died on our roads last year. May they rest in peace.
Tuesday 7 May: Take the Pledge, Lead the Way - Take the Pledge and lead the way by promising to drive so that you and others survive.
Wednesday 8 May: Move Over, Slow Down - Emergency services, roadside assist and roadside workers risk their lives every day to help us. When you see the flashing lights move over and slow down to keep them safe.
Thursday 9 May: Protecting every life It’s not just people in cars who are victims of traffic trauma. Drive safely to protect every life along the road including pedestrians (especially children, seniors and people with disabilities).
Friday 10 May: Shine the light on regional and remote road users - Turn your headlights on for road safety and protect your mates so everyone gets home safe.
Saturday 11 May: Yellow Ride Day– cyclists and motorcyclists - Our cyclists and motorcyclists are our most vulnerable road users. Share the roads and give them the space they need.
Sunday 12 May: Mother’s Day - The greatest gift you can give Mum is for everyone to arrive home safe.
Drive so you and others survive.
National Road Safety Week
6 May - 12 May 2019
Drive so others survive
An overarching message from this years event was: It’s time we Speak Up and Personalise our Road Safety Efforts. “We all need to personalise road safety,” said Rob McInerney, CEO, International Road Assessment Program at the launch of National Road Safety Week. “My kids are aged 14 and 11. I love them. The most likely way they could be killed over the next 15 years is in a road crash. I don’t want them to die.”
“Like Rob and Peter, I have children – Jack, aged 7 and Will, aged 4. As a Dad, I do everything to keep them safe, especially on the road,” said Cade Turner, Business Leader for 3M’s Transportation Safety Division. “3M has pioneered breakthrough road safety innovations for more than 70 years. Road users rely on 3M reflective traffic signs and pavement markings every day, on almost every road around the world to guide them home safely. We believe that no one should die or be seriously injured on our roads and that we all have a responsibility to look out for each other. So, we are proud to be a Gold Partner of National Road Safety Week to help promote this vital message.”
National Road Safety Week may be over for 2019, however road trauma continues to inflict tragic consequences, there is much more to be done. In reality, the work continues all year round. Any loss of life on our roads is one too many and totally unacceptable until it gets to zero. To make a difference we all need to take action and join the fight to speak up for change and to save lives on our roads. In 2020, National Road Safety Week will take place from the 4-10 May.
Getting involved is easy, simply take action on one or all of the initiatives below: