Cycling is about "Safe exercise" and "Safe low-emission travel" The Health and Fitness objective is UNDERMINED if the means of exercise is UNSAFE! This blog STRONGLY OPPOSES certain reforms VicRoads is currently considering: “cyclists could be allowed to treat red lights as Give Way signs. And the same could also APPLY at pedestrian lights."
Also "PERMITTING cyclists, riding cautiously, to proceed past a stationary tram;" "allowing teenagers to ride on footpaths"(Herald Sun)PDowe
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Motoring Driving & Mobile Phones, Texting 'How one text at the wheel can kill' Sunday Herald Sun June 24th 2013
Driver Distraction:don't let life get in the way!
'Please, put the phone away': how one text at the wheel can kill
Brooke Richardson (left) died after her car veered off the road, while Marcus Johnstone lost control of his vehicle killing two passengers. Source: Herald Sun
TRIVIAL text messages sent or read by drivers at the wheel have claimed the lives of at least 20 people on the nation's roads and left many more injured, a News Limited investigation shows.
A man believed to have crashed while texting a smiley face icon to a mate is among current cases being probed by state coroners and police.
Other short messages linked to recent fatal accidents on the nation's roads include "I'll be home soon", and "Hey are you still coming today?".
The News Limited analysis of police, court and coroner's records reveals text wreck victims over the past decade include drivers, their passengers, other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
Revelations of the mounting death toll have prompted a coalition of grieving relatives, road safety groups, mobile service providers and others to unite in a bid to stop such accidents.
They are urging News Limited readers to sign a pledge promising not to text behind the wheel, and also to take action to stop friends or family if they see them in the act.
Today we join with families touched by a road tragedy caused by text messaging behind the wheel. Sign this pledge to commit to being a responsible driver and to encourage your friends and family not to text when driving.
Grieving relatives who have shared their harrowing stories hope by highlighting the long-lasting ripple effects a single message can have, they might save other families from similar suffering.
Many of the grieving said the trivial nature of the messages which preceded the fatal accidents made the death even harder to deal with.
Police and road safety bodies admit the injury toll caused by texting drivers is vastly under-reported, with many less serious accidents simply remaining undocumented.
A NSW woman who was lucky to survive last year after she ran under a truck while typing "just finished for the day already whats crakin?" is one of the few known prosecutions nationally for non-fatal texting accidents.
Some studies have shown texting increases the risk of a crash or near crash by up to 15 times for car drivers, and over 20 times for truck drivers.
Concerned authorities in some states are exploring measures such as special new road cameras that can capture photos from up to 500m away of distracted motorists touching their phones.
It is hoped such cameras would allow police to dramatically increase the number of fines issued, and act as a strong deterrent to texters.
Surveys routinely show up to 40 per cent of drivers admit sending or reading an SMS while driving.
Ted Marsh, the father of the victim in Australia's first known case where a driver was prosecuted over a text-messaging death in 2001, said he was disappointed the lesson hadn't been learned.
"People should have worked it out, they should have woken up. Texting and driving is very, very dangerous," he said. "I absolutely urge people to take the pledge not to do it."
A SMILEY face icon. An apology for running late. A request for directions. A terse note to an ex over child support. Confirmation of a hair appointment. A promise to be home soon.
These text messages seem no different to the billions of others Australians dash off every year: fleeting missives sent and read in the blink of an eye.
But there is a stark difference. These messages are from among at least 20 cases nationally where an SMS tapped out and sent or read by a distracted motorist has cost a life.
One was just three characters. The longest was 23 words. No matter the length or the content, each driver's decision to text while behind the wheel has triggered lasting and widespread ripple effects - and left devastated families and friends desperate to share a far more vital message of their own.
Brooke Richardson was killed when her car careered off the road, her undamaged phone found at her feet.Source: Herald Sun
VICKI Richardson used to exchange texts with her hairdresser daughter Brooke at least 15 times a day.
Worried that something had happened that dreadful Tuesday morning last December, her first instinct was to send an SMS to her daughter, one that will never be read or answered: "Call ASAP, Brooke, please text me!! I love you."
By the time it arrived, Brooke was already dead. Crash investigators found her phone, not damaged, between her feet in the wreck. A coroner last month found she'd been texting as she drove - arranging an appointment with a client at the new salon she had started working at in Cobram.
"She was only 10 minutes away from work, but she sent a message anyway," Vicki says.
Mrs Richardson has started a foundation with the aim of spreading the "don't text and drive" message - a problem she fears will worsen.
"I think it is going to end up an epidemic," she says. "Kids at primary school are already hooked on phones. What will happen when they get behind the wheel? We have to do something to stop this."
Anthony Marsh who was killed when his pushbike was hit by a car after the driver was distracted using a mobile phone. Picture: Rob LeesonSource: Herald Sun
TED Marsh stood on the courthouse steps a decade ago and called for a $500 fine and six demerit points for drivers caught texting.
Mr Marsh's super fit son, Anthony, was run over and killed by dentist Silvia Nicole Ciach as she tried to send a message - "cu1" - to a friend she was meeting at 1pm.
The court case, believed the first of its kind nationally against a texting driver, was hailed as a stark warning to all drivers.
But 10 years on, the toll is growing.
A News Limited investigation has unearthed details of at least 20 fatal text-related crashes in that time. There are at least two current coroner's investigations into text-related deaths underway nationally.
Police admit the problem is vastly under-reported, with investigators often finding it difficult to conclusively prove a driver was texting behind the wheel.
Mr Marsh despairs at the number of people he still sees texting.
"Ten years later, people should have worked it out. It's not something new anymore, people should have woken up. Texting and driving is very, very dangerous."
Around the nation, researchers, road safety agencies, police and others are puzzling over how to persuade drivers to put away their phones.
While driver attitudes to speeding and drink-driving are improving, distractions from technology are getting worse.
About 40 per cent of drivers between 18-24 routinely admit in surveys to sending or reading texts while driving.
And all the while, the toll mounts.
His ex-wife, Anthony's mum Joyce Simpson, feels sick when she sees drivers texting behind the wheel, which happens frequently.
"You look, and you think, 'if only you knew what you could cause for yourself, and your family, and someone else's family'. You wish you could throw their phones away."
The latest reminder of her son's death was her step-daughter presented her with an orange ribbon, distributed by hairdresser Brooke Richardson's mum to promote safety awareness.
"I realised there are so many other people in the same situation as us," Joyce says. "Please, put the phone away. We don't want any more."
Graham Denton, a 52-year-old father-of-three, was killed while riding his bicycle when a motorist texting on his mobile phone ploughed into him on the Pacific Highway at Lake Macquarie near Newcastle.Source: Herald Sun
SCAFFOLDER Jason Rippard wishes every day he hadn't picked up his phone to check an earlier message to his ex-wife had been sent properly.
As he prepares to leave jail next month to rebuild his life, he's already spreading the message behind bars to other drivers to put their phones away, and plans to continue doing so once released.
His mum, Christine, admits she used to text before her son's accident but has stopped after seeing her son's life disintegrate after he ploughed into father-of-three Graham Denton.
She's not complaining, just explaining, when she says the crash has wrecked Jason's life, and the difficulty it has caused in her own.
"It's not something he's dismissed. It's something he'll live with for the rest of his life," she says.
"He's done a couple of talks to driver offender courses, and he wants to still go and do it even after he's left jail."
Jason's son is 10 years old. He complained recently about not enough time with dad. Christine says Jason told his boy "you are lucky, in a few weeks I'll be home for good. Some other children don't have their dads".
Jason Stortz was killed by a texting driver while riding his bike at Yallah near Wollongong in 2009. Picture: Tracee LeaSource: Herald Sun
KYLIE Stortz's son Harry was only 16-months-old when his triathlete dad Jason, out riding his new bike, was killed by an under-age, unlicensed, texting driver at the wheel of his new Ford Falcon.
Her son has just turned five. There are daily reminders of his dad's absence.
"I had to fill in forms at pre-school, was asked to put down dad's details. What do you do?" Kylie says.
"My son asks me 'mum, who will look after me if you go to heaven like dad?' Or he'll just ask things like 'did my dad like to eat this food?'. That's stuff he should just know because his dad should still be here."
No one knows exactly what happened in the accident, with the young driver a reluctant witness and his female passenger telling police she couldn't assist either - because she had been concentrating on her own phone at the time of the collision.
Helen Gledhill survived after her car was hit by a texting driver, killing her best friend Lee-Anne McLennan (right). Picture: Tanya LynchSource: Herald Sun
CRASH survivor Helen Gledhill's passenger didn't know what hit her, either.
Helen was driving along with her best friend since grade four, Lee-Anne McLennan, when a green car appeared in front of them. A coroner later found the young male driver was distracted by texting.
Helen says a smashed ankle and elbow from the incident have left her unable to care for her 12-year-old disabled son, and the crash has virtually ruined her life. She missed her best friend's funeral - and has missed her every day since.
She's unable to work, and a compensation payout intended to fund future surgeries she'll need has affected her Centrelink benefits.
"I'm not physically capable of looking for work. I can't type long, write long, walk long, sit long."
She was too scared to get in a car for some time, and has to take a valium before she can get in the passenger seat. "I couldn't even teach my own teenage son to drive," she says.
DRIVER education is the key, authorities believe, to stemming the texting toll.
As the number of cases continues to mount, police and road safety groups want young and old alike to regulate their own behaviour - turn off the phone before they get in the car and not touch it.
Several states have recently launched - or are about to - campaigns specifically targeting texting.
But the Centre for Road Safety's Marg Prendergast knows there is a long road ahead to break the modern obsession people have with instant communication.
"People have to realise it is so dangerous. Not just young people, older people too. Everybody. Sending or reading, it doesn't matter. It can wait. That's the message. It can wait."