Reasons to take care on roads

By Andrew Bonallack

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Our national road toll now stands at six, including the death of Masterton 4-year-old Kahui Matauwhati near Taumarunui on Sunday.

Is it simply pointless to remonstrate with the public at large on the need to be careful? We're at a point now where the phrase "take care on our roads" has become a cliche.

It is great news the road toll for the year is one of the lowest ever and people being careful is hopefully playing a part. But outstanding policing could also be contributing to that.

I'm sure the police rack their brains every year to try to figure out the best way to hit the message home about being safe on the roads. Visually disturbing advertising has been done for several years, including the latest one showing a woman's neck breaking as her car comes to a rapid halt in a crash. I'm told the original cut of that advertisement is a lot more graphic, but too strong to be shown.

Here at the Times-Age we've already found the public struggle to be confronted with the messy reality of a road crash. They will get outraged if we show a photograph of emergency crews working on an unseen person who dies, but will happily look at a photo of crews working on someone who ultimately survives.

Death by road crash, to many people, is either a statistic, a special effects advertisement, or a part of a sanitised UKTV drama. I am still disgruntled at the public's unwillingness to be confronted with the reality of road death, but I also know the newspaper has a duty of care when it comes to sensitivity.

I have a pretty decent knowledge of the reality of road crashes.

Whoever dies is just the prologue to years of mess for the survivors and the person who caused it. Have a look at what chapters could follow: turning off life-support machine, arrest, charges, media coverage, on-line harassment, court case, sentence, meet dead person's family, contemplate suicide.

When you're driving, and running near to 100km/h, or you're getting tired, or you're thinking about that drink, run that bitter list through your mind. That list is real. Could you survive it?

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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