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Take it easy on the roads this holiday


MY belief is that everyone who gets a driver's licence should be taken to a crash scene, or be shown the results/photos of a crash, before they get given their licence.

A bit morbid maybe, but I reckon it would save lives, especially in light of the road stats at Christmas time. In the first few years after getting my licence I was just like my mates - haring around in a completely irresponsible manner.

My father always used to say: “Make the passenger feel comfortable. Don't expect other drivers to behave in the manner you think they should.” He was right, of course, but we didn't listen.

That all changed when someone very close to me was killed in a crash. He wasn't the driver. His parents had to identify his body and his mother said he was barely recognisable. That was an extremely harsh wake-up call.

For me two things changed that day: I stopped drinking alcohol, and I slowed down. This was all reinforced a few years later when I started work as a journalist. No one told me I would have to take photographs at a crash scene. I was expecting to cover golf news and the odd cricket and rugby game.

Soon after I started, there was a big crash not far from the office. The driver of a car loaded with passengers had done a U-turn across the road. A huge oncoming truck could not stop in time and it was awful.

A steep bank overlooked the road and I clambered up there to get away from the scene - to let the police and paramedics do their work - and in case I threw up. On the way up, I nearly stood on an arm. I could not believe my eyes. As I looked around, I realised there were more body bits scattered on the bank.

I took a few photos of the general scene and headed back to the office, shaking, and as white as a sheet. Then have been many more crash scenes I have had to go to (as have many journalists) but that image has stuck.

It has been a reminder to go easy on the roads. There is no need to race.

Of course, this has led to some 'abuse' from my brothers-in-law, who say I drive 'like a granny'!

Another friend reckons it's the slow drivers who cause accidents, and he may have a point (a discussion for another day) but really, it is controlled and considerate driving that will go a long way towards a more pleasant time on the roads.

So, on your trip to wherever you may be going on the roads, take it easy, enjoy the scenery, and keep to the speed limit!

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