WE ALL know the tradition.
Kids who aren’t even tall enough to see over the wheel are thrown the keys to the “paddock basher” or a quad bike and their driving career begins.
I’m a mum and I also manage the Crash Investigation Unit for the NSW Police Force.
Lately we have been called to so many cases of young children losing their lives in cars or on motorcycles or quad bikes being driven or ridden on private property.
The most recent of these has been the death of a 14-year-old boy who died after a single car crash at Yerong Creek near Wagga Wagga on October 11.
The driver, also a 14-year-old boy, was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death – drive manner dangerous.
The aftermath of a crash in small, rural communities lasts long after the headlines have faded and that is just as true for my investigators.
They meet a family, sometimes a whole community, at perhaps the blackest point in their lives.
If you must hand over the keys, there’s a few things you might want to talk about:
- Does your child know what to do in an emergency? Can they perform even basic first aid?
- What are their capabilities? Can they control the vehicle on their own?
- Does the vehicle they are using have a fully functioning UHF and/or a charged mobile phone?
- Do you know where your children are on the property? Has the drought caused any new hazards?
- If they’re riding any type of bike, are they using an approved helmet?
While the crash may not occur on a public street or road, the consequences can still be the same.
Parents or landowners can be charged with offences such as dangerous driving occasioning death. This charge can carry a maximum jail term of 10 years.
If your child is heading out in a group, talk to them about peer pressure and not letting their mates push them towards doing something that will change their life or their friends’ lives forever.
My investigators want to remember NSW country towns for their wonderful hospitality and warm, generous people, not for the tragedies they have been called to.
INSPECTOR KATIE ORR,
Crash Investigation Unit manager, NSW Police Force.