This Christmas, when families sit down to lunch, there will be loved ones missing.
People who should be laughing. People who should be smiling. People who should be alive. Every day we hear about the rising road toll across the state.
Behind every statistic is a real person with a family, a network of friends and colleagues, whose lives have been irreversibly changed.
Regional Australians are disproportionately represented in the road toll statistics, with more than two-thirds of NSW fatalities occurring in country areas.
But the idea that young P-plate drivers are most likely to die is false, with research showing men make up 80 per cent of country NSW’s road toll and those aged 30 to 59 most at risk.
Over the next few months, Fairfax Media across NSW, including the Armidale Express, are running a “Survive the Drive” campaign to highlight the ripple effect of road trauma.
Our journalists see first-hand the ongoing and devastating effect of fatalities and serious injury collisions.
From crash scenes where the air is permeated by sirens and desperate first responders, to the stunned living rooms of grieving families, they are exposed to the senseless loss and trauma.
Through the Survive the Drive, these journalists will share the experiences of those who have lost loved ones; those who respond, and those who bravely share their loss in the hopes the community will listen and another family won’t feel their pain.
Fairfax mastheads will deliver stories about the dangers on our roads, the risks contributing to fatalities and the efforts of authorities to lower the road toll.
These stories are not always easy to read or tell, but the time has come for our community to stand up and say that when it comes to driving, there is no place for excuses.
Excessive or inappropriate speed is a factor in 47 per cent of country fatalities, fatigue a factor in 28 per cent, alcohol in 20 per cent and not using seatbelts in 21 per cent.
For too long, our people have been justifying their risky behaviour, saying they know the road like the back of their hand or that “it is just a short drive”.
These excuses are deadly; they’re killing our mates, our children, our loved ones.
As a community, we need to drop the excuses and Survive the Drive.