OPINION: Dr Rebecca Michael BPSYCH (HONS), PHD, MAICD
EVERY YEAR, I host Christmas and Boxing Day at my home. As much as I love to share our house and hospitality, I equally make this choice out of fear of driving during the holiday period. This year, as in years gone past, my fears have been founded in the tragic and avoidable loss of life on Queensland roads.
With an academic background in road safety, I should have a more rational view on the likely risk of being involved in a crash, particularly when I minimise this risk by doing all the right things. I don’t drink and drive, I don’t do drugs, I don’t drive tired, I wear my seatbelt and I obey the speed limit.
But on Christmas Day, I was reminded again that bad things can happen to good people, no matter how responsible they are; a loving mother and daughter, doing all the right things, killed at the hands of a reckless drug user behind the wheel.
Beyond the reach of the Fatal Five campaigns, we are reminded every day of the dangerous choices people make, with the deadly consequences delivered on our roads. How we live our life is how we drive, and the weight and enormity of the social challenge this poses to protect road users is overwhelming.
How do we change society? How do you get a meth user to consider the potentially deadly consequences to others when he won’t even consider the danger to himself?
How do I protect my twelve and eleven-year-old sons, now and when they start to drive?
I can’t change society, but I can work to create a transport system that protects users against the deadly decisions of others.
With human error a causal factor in 95 percent of crashes, automated and connected vehicles offer a future where the influence of society and personality don’t play out on our roads.
This is why I work for RACQ, so I can do something now to protect my children, and others, in the future.
In the meantime, I will continue to spend Christmas at home with those I love, count my blessings and grieve for those who can’t.