Melissa Weller presenting the session.More than 30 people gathered at Yass High School last Wednesday evening (May 4) for a two-hour session on “Helping Learner Drivers Become Safer Drivers”.
Run by Yass Valley Council’s Road Safety Officer Melissa Weller, the session was attended by parents and their learner-driver children, and offered advice on how to provide the most effective driving practice and training.
The session began with a heartfelt presentation by a courageous young local woman in a wheelchair whose life has been forever changed by a fatigue-related accident on the Barton Highway almost three years ago.
Driver fatigue accident survivor Samantha Longmore shares her story.
Back in 2013, then 20-year-old Samantha Longmore was working two jobs: on a rural property during the day and at a Canberra club during the night, and this meant she would often drive back to her home in Binalong in the early hours of the morning.
“I was doing way too much, working too much, socialising too much, like a typical young person, and fell asleep driving back from work,” she said.
“I don’t remember much about what happened, I remember leaving work, I got some petrol, a coffee, and something to eat, and I think I had one sip of my coffee and here I am lying in hospital not knowing what the rest of my life would bring … nobody did.”
An attentive audience listens to Samantha’s personal account.
Samantha now has hemiplegia, and is paralysed on the right side of her body, unable to move her right arm or leg.
“If you fall asleep at the wheel it’s not just you that it will hurt, it could be other road users, and will definitely hurt your friends and family,” she said.
“And playing loud music in the car doesn’t help. No matter how much you pump up the volume it won’t keep you awake if your body wants to sleep.”
Samantha’s powerful message, which she delivered on the day that was also her 23rd birthday, set the scene for an engaging session.
Other presentations were given by Johanna Brown from NRMA, who described the Free2go program (which provides a year of free roadside assistance for 16 to 20 year olds), and Sean McGrath from Ascent Training Services, who outlined the Safer Drivers Course.
Session presenters Melissa Weller, Sean McGrath and Johanna Brown.
For Melissa Weller, who has been running the sessions for many years, this one was the most successful and she was delighted with the outcome.
“We had the highest number of people attending this time and I think we were able to get the message through that driving a car is dangerous and you need to take it seriously.”
Melissa explained that high traffic volumes on the Barton Highway, the state of the road, and the increasing level of commuting meant people had to be extra careful with their driving.
“We have around 46 per cent of our workforce commuting to the ACT for work and kids going back and forth to uni, and this commuter lifestyle is a safety hazard with people being tired after a long day or becoming impatient on a road that has limited overtaking opportunities.”
“Fixing the road, and maybe even doing duplication would be a good thing, but that could take many years so in the meantime we’re working on behavioural aspects, right from the get-go where people are learning to drive,” she said.
As part of her road safety initiatives, Melissa will also present a free two-hour session for the older age group at 10am this Wednesday (May 11) at the Yass Golf Club entitled “On the road 65 Plus”.
This will include presentations by a local pharmacist, as well as an occupational therapist and will cover issues affecting older drivers such as modified licences, safe driving habits, and mobility scooters.
Bookings can be made by calling Yass Valley Council on (02) 6226 9248 or by e-mailing Melissa at [email protected]论坛. For full details see: 苏州美甲美睫培训学校yassvalley.nsw.gov419论坛/news.
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