The push to speak up

AWARENESS: Station Officer Chas Thomas, Chelsea McInerney, Samantha Pearce and Lachie Hansen.
AWARENESS: Station Officer Chas Thomas, Chelsea McInerney, Samantha Pearce and Lachie Hansen.

A Road Awareness Program (RAP) was hosted in Gladstone on Tuesday to teach Year 10 and 11 students about the consequences of dangerous behaviours on the road. 

The group takes a positive spin on the heart-breaking and emotional topic, encouraging students who are passengers to speak up in a car where the driver or other passengers are exhibiting dangerous behaviours. 

The program is led by the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and pairs with local road crash survivors who tell their stories and explain how their lives have changed. 

Samantha Pearce survived a road crash when she was 17-years-old, the now 30-year-old from Peterborough explains that all she wanted the kids to go home with was the message of knowing what not to do. 

“It teaches the kids to make the right choices. We get to ask the questions so that they look after themselves, their families, their friends and so they don’t go through the struggles that I have had and will have for the rest of my life”, Samantha said. 

Samantha is a volunteer and tells her story hoping that her experience will not be re-lived. 

She was in a car when it flipped three times, landed on its wheels again. From the accident, she has an acquired brain injury, has had 15 major surgeries with more to come and possible knee replacements in the near future. 

She says that every day since the accident has been a struggle and unfortunately it is only going to get worse.  

“I spoke to them about what my life was like before I had my crash, all my efforts during my rehabilitation, recovery and the struggles that I have now which is only going to get harder for me, but hopefully they make the right choice”, Samantha said. 

“We hope the kids look after themselves, look after their families and friends. Hopefully they come out thinking what they can’t do and take on good behaviours and sticking to the road rules so they stay safe.” 

The 100 minute seminar showed brutal footage of crashes, statistics and an emotional video on the effect a crash has on loved ones. 

A year 11 student from Gladstone High School Chelsea McInerney says the session was an eye opener for her and there will be some habits that she will be changing. 

“I am definitely going to be more aware of my surroundings and making sure not to even change on the song on my phone”, Chelsea said. 

“I downloaded the app and thought I was a responsible driver but now that I know the small risk of walking across the road with your headphones in has a major impact on accidents. It is very important for them to come to our schools so we can learn and develop our understanding on things that can impact us.”

“It made me a little upset, it is very scary the impact just one little risk can have on you. Samantha’s story definitely had the most impact on me today.”

The MFS Road Awareness Program is funded by the State Government and is generously supported by sponsors the RAA, Motor Accident Commission, SA Power Networks and the Australia Professional Firefighters Foundation charity.