My name is Grant Watkins, I am a Senior Constable of Police currently stationed at the Rosebud Police Station and have been a Member of the Victoria Police Force for over 20 years.
In that time I have been to a countless number of accidents where the injuries have ranged from none to multiple deaths. Here is the Current Road Toll which is an appalling and wasteful loss of human life. What this figure doesn't tell us is the huge number of people who are permanently injured for the rest of their lives, both physically and mentally from their involvement or even non-involvement in a motor vehicle accident.
In my role as a Policeman I am responsible for various duties when confronted with a road accident. From attending and assisting at the actual scene, the investigation as to the cause, compiling of reports relating to it, charging and prosecution of any offending parties and without doubt the worst part — notification of relatives and friends.
One factor that inevitably rears its ugly head when dealing with road accidents involving young persons, such as yourselves, is that most of these accidents could have easily been avoided. Most have occurred through stupidity, involved excessive speed, carelessness, drugs, impatience, alcohol, aggression or inexperience.
When you put the key into the ignition of any motor vehicle, you are virtually signing a contract that you will obey the laws that govern all of us. You have a responsibility to all other persons whether they are your passengers, other drivers, pedestrians or what ever. As the driver of a car in which you are ferrying passengers around you are taking on one of the greatest responsibility that you could possibly ever be given, even though you may not realise it. You are being given the trust of those passengers to safely, and I emphasise safely, transport them to a certain destination. It is a responsibility that we all take for granted but that does not make it any less significant. You are not being given permission to subject these passengers to speeding, dangerous driving, sky-larking or any other thing you as the driver may want to try and impress them with. If you want to impress someone, get them somewhere safely. As a passenger have the guts to tell a driver to pull 'theirs head in' if they are driving dangerously.
I have sat in the audience and listened to this presentation myself, so I know that there would be a few of you reading this presentation with the attitude of "I bet you mucked around when you were young." I would be a hypocrite to say I didn't, but you all have got to realise that there are millions more drivers and cars on the road now, there are a video surveillance cameras everywhere and nearly everybody has a mobile phone. Every day at the Police Station we get calls from motorists following idiots of drivers, and they are quite happy to report them to us. I realise now how lucky I was, very lucky.
To get your attention here today I could tell you about the 16 year old pedestrian who was killed and so mangled that his face tore off his skull and after finally finding it I had to stuff it with newspaper to give it shape so he could be identified, or the young pregnant mother who disregarded her Doctors advice not to drive as she had low blood pressure, and she blacked out whilst driving, hit a pole and killed her unborn child. Or the `P' plate driver who was showing off and killed his passenger who was also his best mate. My colleagues and I here today can tell you a multitude of war stories and all the gory details of the accidents we have been to. Some of you will have a `ghoulish' fascination to hear them, other would be repulsed, but the one factor remains in every single one of them - they could have been avoided.
Life is all about responsibility. Having responsibility for your own actions and accepting the consequences of those actions is a major part of life. I say this because one day when you become licensed drivers and get pulled over by myself or any other Police Officer because you've committed some type of offence, always remember that it is your fault, not the Officers. Don't go running home sooking to Mum or Dad that this arrogant Police Officer has `booked me for nothing'. You were probably booked because you took a risk, a risk that wasn't necessary and which put yourself and others in danger. That Police Officer's arrogance was probably because he or she was thinking, "When are they going to learn?"
Consider the following...
- Are you going to take responsibility for the injuries you caused to others, or the damage you caused to other cars or property?
- Are you prepared to go to jail for killing your mate, a family member or some unknown person and will those mates I tried to impress, still be mates when I get out of prison?
- How will you pay the fine you got at Court, the Solicitors costs and the cost of fixing your car?
- What's life going to be like living in a wheelchair, relying on the support of others to help you every day?
- How do you get Mum and Dad's trust back now that you've bingled their car and they have to catch the train to work?
- What's Xmas going to be Iike without your brother or sister or your best friend?
- How are your family going to cope with being woken in the middle of the night to be told that you are dead because of your driving?
One day, most of you will be parents and will lend your car to your child. It is only then that you will realise the fear of hearing the phone ringing in the middle of the night or an unfamiliar car pull up in the driveway, two doors slam and then a knock on the door. You owe it to everyone to drive safely.
We hope that these presentations will try and put `old heads on young shoulders' and get you to understand now, before it's too late, that you must drive safely. For me, in 'working terms', the accident you've caused means I have to fill in a lot of forms, but I get paid to do that. In realistic terms you are all members of society and loved by your family and friends who don't want to see you hurt in any way.
Most of you will do as much driving as Learners as your parents will let you. Most of the time this will be in a controlled atmosphere under their guidance and nothing major will happen. When you're asked what you want for your birthday or Xmas don't ask for a mobile phone, Play Station 2, jewellery or what ever it is that's your interest, why not ask them to pay for you to attend a Driver Education Course. A course where you can learn how to drive a car in many different and dangerous circumstances. The skills you learn at these courses are something that will be with you forever and could very well save you or someone else's life. We already have too many young drivers on the road who have only learnt to drive to pass a driving test and have never been subjected to taking emergency evasive action.
Prior to finishing I wish to say that I've heard people say that if our presentations save one life then we've done our job. I can tell you that I'm not here to save one life, I'm here to save numerous lives and stem the number of horrific accidents that happen every day. I don't want any of you to ever have to be the victim of a motor vehicle accident and suffer any type of injury as a result of it.
I thank you for your time in reading this presentation.
Be safe, have fun but always think about the consequences of your actions.