On February 15, 2012, my beautiful daughter Sarah Frazer was killed by a distracted driver on the Hume Freeway, 8km south of Mittagong, NSW.
On that day, our family experienced the terrible trauma of losing a loved one in what was a completely preventable road crash. We live with that trauma to this day.
Just two days later, our family would come together in our profound grief. My eldest son Ben said that we had to do something in Sarah’s name. And he immediately comes up with a name in her honour – Safer Australian Roads and Highways (SARAH). (Our little organisation is also colloquially referred to as Sarah Group which is the name of our website).
The other thing Ben said is that we’ve got to ensure people “Drive So Others Survive!”, and this is now the foundational theme of our work.
The following week we would bury our daughter and because Sarah’s favourite colour was yellow, I tied a yellow ribbon to our car aerial, but then an amazing thing happened, our community of the Blue Mountains started doing the same as an act of solidarity with us, and as the solidarity spread across the nation, Sarah’s yellow ribbon became Australia’s road safety symbol.
Because we were out there in the public space, people who had been affected by road trauma would contact us. They had a symbol now but unbelievably, there was not even a day devoted to focus on road safety during the year. We knew we had to create something so that those affected could tell their stories.
We decided to create an event and we called it Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week and it started on Mother’s Day 2012 to remember all those mums in NSW who had lost a loved one in a road crash. The week became an unexpected success as people from all over the state became involved.
As we had received astonishing support for this road safety event, we decided to hold another ‘Week’ in May the following year. To our great surprise, in April 2013, Queensland Motorways (now Transurban) offered to light the Gateway Bridges across the Brisbane River to support our Week, and as our event moved out of NSW, it became National Road Safety Week!
Now in its 10th year, we are extremely proud of how National Road Safety Week has grown and from May 14-21 this year, hundreds of buildings, bridges and icons around the country will be lit in yellow across our nation.
Additionally, thousands of yellow ribbons and stickers will be displayed on the rear of police and emergency vehicles, corporate and government fleets, heavy vehicles, buses, cars, motorcycles and kids bikes, etc.
This week-long event has also spread across the Tasman and New Zealand now holds a yellow ribbon road safety week and it coincides with ours.
So, while National Road Safety Week may have been created by us, it has now become a very wide collaboration between SARAH, corporations, governments and their agencies, non-profit organisations, and stakeholders within the heavy vehicle and logistics industry.
With regard to our heavy vehicles, there are few things that make me prouder than seeing a B-double flying a yellow ribbon or displaying one on the trailers because that vehicle and its driver have committed to ensure everyone gets home safe!
They are proudly showing the community that they are committed to actively protecting all road users, including other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Truckies tell us that National Road Safety Week is extremely important to them because it is not just focussed on those on the road ahead but also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about their safety while also promoting safe driving practices.
Telling the community about the unique challenges truckies face on Australian roads is definitely worth doing and you can use National Road Safety Week to start these conversations.
Seldom do people realise that by their very nature, heavy vehicles are more difficult to manoeuvre, have cab sight issues and of course, require longer stopping distances. Promoting safe driving around heavy vehicles is also a conversation that needs to go hand-in-hand with talking about how we need to actively protect others.
So, let’s use the week to help foster a culture of road safety within and outside the industry and in doing so, let’s also explain to the driving public how and why they need to actively look after truckies.
And the best way to start these conversations is to publicly fly your yellow ribbon or display your yellow ribbon sticker on your trucks and trailers.
By doing this, you are not only showing that you and your team are good corporate citizens, but by this simple action, you are showing everyone that you are out there looking after all those on the road ahead.
You are showing that you and your crew are actually road safety champions!
• For ribbons and reflective stickers, visit roadsafety- week.com.au/supporters.