Author Topic: Please stay safe on the roads  (Read 818 times)

Offline Katie77

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Please stay safe on the roads
« on: December 13, 2010, 10:20:05 pm »
Here is a letter penned by the Queensland Police is a timely reminder to take special care on the roads especially over the holiday season....

Top cop recalls carnage in bid to cut tollAAP
December 14, 2010, 9:29 am



It was Bob Atkinson's first "fatal". An elderly man. Struck with such force on a dark road that his body was lifted out of his shoes.

Decades on, the memory of those shoes left behind on the roadway still haunts the Queensland police commissioner, who has penned a powerful open letter in hopes of keeping the holiday road toll down.

Mr Atkinson was an inexperienced young constable when he was called to the scene.

"I couldn't understand why he wasn't wearing shoes," he writes of the man, aged in his 80s, who was well dressed in a dark suit.

He eventually found the shoes, lying together on the road, "a silent witness" to the man's last moments.

"Later we would find out that he had been visiting his wife. She was in hospital. It was the first time they had been apart in their married life of over 50 years," Mr Atkinson writes.

"He must have misjudged the speed of the approaching car as he tried to cross the main road near his house."

That was his first "fatal", a word he says sums up the brutality of sudden violent road deaths.

But many more would follow. There would be more shoes left behind on other roads, more unspeakable scenes.

Mr Atkinson recalls the horror that confronted him some years later, when as a detective working in a country town, he was called to a three-vehicle crash on a dark, wet highway.

A young constable had beaten him there and Mr Atkinson wanted to know why his colleague wasn't wearing his wet weather gear.

"He told me how when he arrived the head of one of the victims who had been decapitated in the impact was in the middle of the road. He wrapped it in his raincoat and placed it on the rear seat of the police car," Mr Atkinson writes.

"Five people died that night, all in one vehicle. Three generations of one family. It was the young constable's first fatal."

He tells too of the day he was sent to tell a mother her young son was gone, killed during a drive with a relative while holidaying in the country.

"It was the early morning hours when I got the job to deliver the death message," he writes.

"As I drove up the street I calculated the street number, drove well past it, turned the police car around and turned off the light and engine, stopping near the house.

"I walked up the drive and onto the steps and the door opened. It was his mother. She would later tell me that as the police car first drove past she woke, looked out of the window and saw it and knew that her son was gone.

"She put on her dressing gown and went to the front door to be told what somehow her intrinsic maternal senses had already conveyed.

"Whilst many grieve and it cannot be said that some hurt more than others in my experience there is no greater pain than that of a mother for her lost child. No words of mine can describe the extent and depth of that heart torn sorrow."

He appeals to motorists to think about the utter devastation road deaths cause, "the carnage, the pain, the loss of existence and future, the shattering of plans, dreams and families".

He says police used to refer to fatals as accidents but won't anymore.

"We now call them crashes. We don't like calling them accidents because they are avoidable. Almost every one, every time."

He says the most important things drivers can do to stay safe can be distilled into four points - don't speed; don't drink or use drugs and drive; don't drive while tired; and wear seat belts.

"The most important thing we do is to keep you safe from harm. The greatest risk to you from harm is on our roads.

"Help us by not just doing all of this yourself but by doing all that you can to influence as many others as you can to do the same."

Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect.

It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfection