Survive the Drive: Shining a spotlight on ripple effect of road trauma

 HEARTBREAK: Vicki Richardson, with an image of her daughter Brooke who died after just one text while driving. Pictures: MARK JESSER
HEARTBREAK: Vicki Richardson, with an image of her daughter Brooke who died after just one text while driving. Pictures: MARK JESSER

For too long, complacency has been a killer on regional roads, with research showing it’s middle-aged men, not P-platers, most likely to fall victim to the road toll.

Across NSW, Fairfax Media is encouraging drivers to rethink their actions and Survive the Drive

Through the new campaign, launched Monday, the organisation hopes to shine a spotlight on the ripple effect of trauma, the risks contributing to fatalities and the devastating impact of road crashes on families, communities and emergency services. 

Behind every figure is a person whose family, friends, neighbours and community are forever changed. 

At every crash scene, hidden by sirens and flashing lights, every day people working or volunteering as first responders, face unforgettable trauma. 

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said country people are disproportionately represented in the road toll, with two third of NSW fatalities occurring in regional areas. 

“Of those 354 fatal crashes, 272 of those fatalities occurred in regional NSW,” she said. “We are one third of people but constantly two-thirds of fatalities. It’s not just about road and road quality it’s about driver behaviour.”

“Just one little text” and Brooke was gone.

 HEARTBREAK: Vicki Richardson, with an image of her daughter Brooke who after just one text while driving. Pictures: MARK JESSER

HEARTBREAK: Vicki Richardson, with an image of her daughter Brooke who after just one text while driving. Pictures: MARK JESSER

Brooke Richardson should be enjoying baby showers and the weddings of her friends. Instead her mother Vicki attends in her place, masking her heartache with a brave face. If Brooke Richardson was still alive, her mother would never have faced the horror of having to identify her 20-year-old body at a morgue. Instead Vicki wakes every day, imagining what her daughter’s life could have been. Continue reading

Behind every road toll statistic is a person who should still be here. Keith Sharp is one of those people.

Kristy Sharp is still searching for answers after her cautious father Keith died in June after his truck crashed. Picture: MARK JESSER

Kristy Sharp is still searching for answers after her cautious father Keith died in June after his truck crashed. Picture: MARK JESSER

On a cold, wet day seven months ago, Keith Sharp got in the cab of his truck - just like he had almost every day for 25 years. But on that particular day, the man with the cheeky grin and gentle presence, never made it home to Albury. About 6am on May 29, 2017, the 63-year-old’s truck rolled on the Riverina Highway near Berrigan. Five days later Keith was taken off life-support. For his daughter Kristy, those five days and every day since have been agony. Continue reading

Joanne Burgoyne’s dad was her world. But in an instant, that world came crashing down. 

Joanne Burgoyne wants drivers to understand the profound and lasting impact of their actions behind the wheel. Picture: Les Smith

Joanne Burgoyne wants drivers to understand the profound and lasting impact of their actions behind the wheel. Picture: Les Smith

Graham Bryant, 51, was on the way to a friend’s house in Murray Bridge, South Australia, his wife Cathryn just three minutes behind in the car, when a woman shot through a give way sign. Unable to stop his bike in time, he collided with the car’s side at about 80kms/hr, dying almost instantly. His wife was the first on the scene. “I can replay that phone call… I got it about 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, at the Wagga Botanic Gardens,” Ms Burgoyne said. “I got on the phone to my mum, and she just went ‘Joanne are you sitting down?’ I said ‘yes’, and she said ‘your father’s been killed, he’s dead.’” Continue reading

He’s lost a leg and a hand, suffered burns, broken his back, fractured his skull. Jamie Manning considers himself one of the lucky ones.

Jamie Manning (second from left) says his accident three-and-a-half years ago - which he largely attributes to complacency while driving - has affected Lori, Karen, Jedd and Braydon. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Jamie Manning (second from left) says his accident three-and-a-half years ago - which he largely attributes to complacency while driving - has affected Lori, Karen, Jedd and Braydon. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Three-and-a-half years ago Mr Manning was involved in a serious car accident three kilometres from his home. Now he’s one of the ambassadors for a new road safety campaign highlighting the risk taking excuses people make on country roads. There’s a focus on teenagers taking risks but the father-of-three said he wanted to draw attention to men aged between 30 and 50. Mr Manning said complacency played a large role in his accident. He said driving on the same road he had travelled so many times before made it easy for him to think about what he was going to do when he got home, rather than concentrating on the last leg of the drive. Continue reading

It would have been a textbook response like any other day – but this was not an ordinary day.

It was Christmas Day in 2011 and paramedic Brian Bridges and his colleagues were responding to reports of a car crash on the New England Highway South of Tamworth. When they arrived they found the car had crashed into a tree and the young male driver had died at the scene. On the back car seat were Christmas presents to be given to his loved ones. Continue reading

Asleep for only a second or two, but that’s all it took. Liam knows he could have been a crash statistic.

Liam Longbottom had a broken leg, a fractured right knee, fractured right wrist and numerous cuts and bruises from his accident.

Liam Longbottom had a broken leg, a fractured right knee, fractured right wrist and numerous cuts and bruises from his accident.

Liam Longbottom was travelling to work on the Henry Lawson Way between Forbes and Young in January when he fell asleep and his vehicle hit a tree. It was just the second day he had been doing the 1.5 hour commute. “The police and emergency services said they don’t really come to crash scenes like that expecting anyone to be alive,” he said of the accident, which left him unable to work for six months. “It was an old van I was driving and had next to no protection. I know how lucky I am to be alive.” Continue reading

There is also no cure for tiredness other than sleep. Stop driving and take a break.

Fatigue is one of the three biggest killers on NSW roads, and regional motorists are at greater risk of falling asleep behind the wheel than their metropolitan counterparts. In 2016, 83 deaths, or 21 per cent of the overall deaths on the state’s roads were the result of fatigue. It was an increase of 28 deaths compared to 2015. For anyone who has been awake for 17 hours or more and gets behind the wheel, it is the equivalent of driving with a BAC of .05. “Your family will forgive you if you are late home, your boss will forgive you if you’re late for work, but the anguish that comes from these fatalities is lifelong.” Continue reading