"A traumatic brain injury is for life, you don't get any second chances."
That's the message Steve Knott had for Whangarei Boys' High School students yesterday when speaking at the road safety education programme RYDA (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) about the impact of a traumatic brain injury he suffered after a car crash 12 years ago.
On April 9, 2006, Mr Knott was driving along Pacific Highway in Sydney when he went off the road into gravel and crashed into a tree, leaving him in an induced coma for two weeks.
"The contributing factors were not speed but it was really my level of driving maturity that contributed towards the accident. I've got to be honest about this because these kids are getting their licences," he said.
Mr Knott, who moved to Whangarei just before Christmas last year, had to learn to walk and talk again. He said the recovery process took about five months.
This week is Brain Injury Awareness Week and the campaign Black Out for Brain injury encourages people to wear black.
Mr Knott is driving again after the accident and also rows and cycles. But he wants people to know the effects of a brain injury are lifelong.
"A traumatic brain injury is for life, you don't get any second chances. If I can change just one life by turning up at this RYDA programme, that will be enough for me," he said.
Whangarei Boys' High School students Tamihana Soljak, Izac Anderson, and Luke James said they had taken valuable lessons away from Mr Knott's workshop and the RYDA programme.
"It's opened my eyes to a new perspective," said Tamihana
"It wouldn't have been easy," said Izac.
Senior high schools students from eight Whangarei schools will be attending the RYDA workshops which started yesterday and continue tomorrow.
Workshops included learning about hazards and distractions, a demonstration which showed students the different stopping distance when travelling at different speeds, and more.
Road safety education programme co-ordinator Pearl Newman said RYDA taught drivers how to manage distractions, gave them an understanding and acceptance of the rules of the road and the laws of physics.
"We believe this programme is contributing to saving young people's lives on the roads," Ms Newman said.