September is Rural Road Safety Month, a time for reflection and change

There is no denying that it has been a horrific year on our roads. We are four months from the end of the year and yet the road toll has already exceeded that of last year – in fact we had exceeded last years toll by July this year.

In Queensland, more communities and families are having to face the shock and sorrow of loosing a loved one than previous years. In the past 12 months over 284 Queenslanders have lost a loved one on our roads.

Individuals on rural and regional roads are at a significantly higher risk of being killed on our roads. Each year, rural and regional road deaths account for almost two-third of the road toll.

It is not just visitors and those who don’t drive along rural and regional roads often but it is locals too.

Rural Road Safety Month is a time to acknowledge and highlight the added dangers faced by drivers on rural and regional roads.

Rural Road Safety Month, now it its fifth year, is a national community-based initiative from the Australian Road Safety Foundation that seeks to highlight the additional risks present on or around rural roads. Russel White, the CEO of the Foundation reiterated that rural roads are used by all Queenslanders, not just those who live in rural areas.

This year, Rural Road Safety Month was launched in Genoma Park in Cairns.

The mother of Drew Blair, Natalie Sonenko, described the heart wrenching moment when in February this year she received an unexpecting condolences message from a friend, who then had to tell a mother that her son had been killed in a car accident.

The launch of Rural Road Safety Month was the first time Natalie had spoken publicly about what happened to her son and how it changed her life forever.

Drew was thrown from his car after he aquaplaned on a corner, on a road he had driven down often. There was no banned substance in his system, he hadn’t been drinking and he wasn’t speeding. He, simply, wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

Drew was 22 years old.

The Australian Government is taking road safety seriously. We, along with every State and Territory are committed to Vision Zero—that is, zero deaths and serious injuries due to road crashes by 2050. In December last year, governments across Australia released the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30 setting us on the path to Vision Zero.

Road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

When you next jump in your car, think of Drew. Stop and think, have I done everything to keep me and other road users safe? If not, what can I do to be safer and if the answer is not to drive – don’t get behind the wheel until it is.

One death on our roads is one too many.