Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week

Mr Acting-Speaker, I welcome you to the Chair. I draw to the attention of the House that Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week will be from 4 to 11 May. Yellow Ribbon Road Safety week is an initiative of the SARAH group. SARAH stands for Safer Australian Roads and Highways. SARAH Incorporated is a not-for-profit association that was established after the death of Ms Sarah Frazer, who was tragically killed on 15 February 2012 on the Hume Highway. I read the following excerpt from the SARAH Group.org website.

        On 15th February 2012, Sarah Frazer was driving down the Hume Highway on her way to Wagga Wagga to start a degree in photography at Charles Sturt University.
        Just past Mittagong her car broke down and she had to pull over on the side of the Highway. However the shoulder on that section of the freeway was so narrow that despite parking against the guardrail, she could not get her car out of the left-hand 110km/hr lane. Sarah got out of the car and went to the guardrail to wait for help as cars and trucks passed her at high speed just inches away from her car.
        Following an NRMA inspection, a tow truck was called to assist Ms Frazer. Because the tow-truck operator knew how dangerous that section of the highway was, he would not let any of his employees take the call. He went to assist Sarah himself.
        While he started to secure the car, a passing Pantec truck side-swiped Sarah’s vehicle and collided with them both killing them instantly.

The major theme of Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week is to “Drive so others Survive”. This concept might seem quite simple in its ask, but every day on our roads it seems well beyond the capacity of so many drivers. There are many of us in this place and in the wider community who spend hundreds of hours on the road driving many thousands of kilometres each year. On our journeys we undoubtedly come across those who are making the roads anything but safe. Prior to my election to this Parliament, I had the good fortune to present and discuss matters of road safety to young learner drivers at various venues across the Hunter. I used to begin many of those sessions by putting a sporting analogy to the groups and posing these questions: What is the end game when you are driving on the road? What is the goal? What is the outcome? How do you know when you have won, when you have succeeded on the road? Of course the responses were always along the lines of, “Well, it’s getting from A to B”, “… not having a crash”, “… being on time, hopefully”, and “… arriving safely”.

I would then extend that line of questioning to include: Do you think other road users have the same goals and objectives? The answer would always be a resounding “Yes”. So I put it to the group: Do you think, as a driver, your efforts should be put into working against the other drivers, or working with the other drivers on the road? And of course, the answer would be “with”. The sporting analogy extends to ways to support each other on the road to help and assist our team-mates to work together to score the ultimate goal of a safe journey to and from your destination.

The young people would come up with ideas such as, “We could help others by making space when they are changing lanes, entering or exiting the traffic.”; “We could let everyone know as early as possible if you intend to turn by using your indicators and brake lights sooner rather than later.”; “We could move to the left or the right of the road to create space while we are turning.”; “We could change the mindset and accept that no-one actually ‘owns’ the road, they are shared roads.”; “We could always remember that by working together instead of working against each other, it would increase the chances that the trip or journey would be a ‘win’ for all.” Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week is a challenge to us all to become better, more aware and safer drivers. Driving so that others survive is an important mindset for us all. Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week is a time when we really must remember this, if we too want our time on the road to be a “win” for all.