When I saw the video above, which has been used in a New Zealand ‘Slow Down’ campaign, based on the fact, that we as humans do make mistakes and when this happens on the road, another person our ourselves, can end up seriously injured or dead. It really hit home.
Maybe it’s because I have kids, that the acting of the dad in the video, truly connected me with that moment, when you realise something really bad is happening to your child. I felt the emotion rise in my throat and rest like a blockage in my chest and it made me think a little deeper. I remember when my Son was knocked down by a car – luckily he wasn’t hurt but had been gestured to cross the road by a driver on one side whose car was stationary, of course the car driver on the other side of the road who was still moving, didn’t know this. It was all a mistake and luckily left noone injured.
One of the things which always concerns me when the kids are off school in the summer holidays, is the speed in which the traffic travels on the roads. Not that this doesn’t concern me at other times. I don’t know if it’s because I see loads more little ones, just hanging around, or because I’ve moved to a new house and have become aware of how fast the traffic runs down my road. It seems to be a bit of a rat run and a cut through and although our road has a 30 mph speed limit, I can see from my window that many cars and bikes drive faster than that speed, giving no consideration to the possibility of children playing out.
As a child of 10, I was hit by a car along East Street, Southend. Luckily for me – the driver was actually only driving at 20 mph. This was still fast enough for me to be lifted off my feet, and into the air, before being smashed onto the bonnet of the car, finally hitting the tarmac as I came down.
I was walking my dog at the time and never let go of the lead and so my poor pooch, Dino, was also flung into the air and hit the car bonnet on the way down. I did manage to get up and even tried to walk home to tell my Dad, that he needed to phone Mum at work, to come home and take me to hospital, before passers by took charge and I passed out. So even at 20 mph, there was a need to slow down.
Somehow, I already knew that I had broken my clavicle. (Collar bone to those of you whom aren’t in the know.) If this Driver, who had only passed his test the previous day and was thoroughly distraught, had been speeding. Or even driving at 30 mph – then I may not have been here to tell this tale.
Our dog, we had to eventually have put down, because his temperament changed. Gone was the gentle cross breed poodle, we had grown to know and love from a puppy. There were moments, when he would turn vicious and to try and attack my sister and I. Eventually trying to bite us in the face. We never knew if being run over was the cause, but this was enough for my mum to make the tough decision she made, to put our adored family dog down.
Life – we are told, moves at a fast pace. Yet life, I realise moves at a pace we dictate. So we choose whether or not, we roll with it or against it. We just need to become aware of that fact and then we can turn our choice into a conscious one.
Most of us, I’m sure, would never want to hurt or kill anyone else with our cars but there are those moments, when our concentration lapses. Our attention for a second is turned to something else or someone else initiates something happening – of which we have no control. I’m not trying to create anxiety, just hopefully a second thought in the head of us drivers when speeding, or not watching properly the road, as we drive upon it. Maybe we all need a little reminder sometimes to just – SLOW DOWN
The New Zealand approach
Previous campaigns have shown that the faster you go the less time you have to react, the longer it takes to stop and the bigger the mess when you do stop. But people still deny this truth or think it doesn’t apply to them. Their speed may be over the limit but it is minimal, e.g. 37 mph in a 30 mph area. In their minds they’re not ‘speeding’, but driving comfortably, and they feel in control.
This NZ campaign aims to reframe the way that people look at their speed when they’re driving. A person may be a good driver but they can’t deny that people do make mistakes – after all, to err is only human. And in life, mistakes are made often. We usually get to learn from our mistakes; but not when driving – the road is an exception. Even the smallest of mistakes on the road can cost us our life, or someone else’s.
In a Safe System no one should pay for a mistake with their life. When we drive, we share the road with others so the speed a person chooses to travel at needs to leave room for any potential error – whether it is theirs or someone else’s. At speed, there is less opportunity for a driver to react to a mistake and recover, and this is the key message for this campaign. New Zealand Transport Agency
So can I ask one little thing of you(and a reminder to myself) today, as you drive on our Great British Roads – remember to SLOW DOWN and keep to the speed limit. Keep your awareness turned on and tuned in to what is happening around you and then maybe we can all keep on doing our bit, to make our roads even safer!