Participants at the launch of last year’s Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign. The Road Trauma Support Services Victoria campaign is usually held in May each year but will commence next week due to COVID-19 restrictions.

By Colin MacGillivray

A STATEWIDE event recognising the victims of road trauma will be presented online for the first time on Sunday.

Road Trauma Support Services Victoria’s, RTSSV, Time for Remembering provides an opportunity for people to commemorate loved ones who have died on Victoria’s roads.

The event is normally staged at Queen’s Hall in Melbourne, but will be streamed live on web conferencing service Zoom from 12pm to 1.30pm.

RTSSV Hume region co-ordinator Carmel Maher said the change to a web-based service, adopted because of COVID-19 restrictions, would give people from regional areas more of a chance to participate.

“Usually when people go down to Queen’s Hall, they’ll take a picture of their loved ones and hold it up with a candle and there is a ceremony, but this year it’s all online so it’s going to be a little bit different,” she said.

“It works out a lot better for everybody who is in regional Victoria because they can be more involved.

“Our other major event each year is the Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign, which is usually in May, but was cancelled this year because of COVID restrictions.

“The Time for Remembering service is going to kick off Shine a Light on Road Safety week this year as well.

“What that will involve is VicRoads putting up signage everywhere for people to turn their lights on. And there will be various landmarks across the state illuminated in yellow, such as AAMI Park, the Royal Exhibition Building, the M80 Ring Road and M2 Tullamarine interchange wall, Melbourne Town Hall and the Melbourne Star.”

Ms Maher said recent road fatalities in the Hume region, which encompasses Mitchell and Murrindindi shires and stretches to the New South Wales border, were grim reminders for people to take care on the roads.

“Because of the fatalities we’ve had recently in Mitchell, it’s a good time to get this message out there,” she said.

“Often we focus on the legal implications of speeding, drink driving, not wearing a seatbelt, driving under the influence of drugs, fatigue or being distracted by mobile phones, but we don’t actually focus on the trauma itself.

“I think that’s the biggest deterrent, is if people are faced with the reality of road trauma.”

Ms Maher said RTSSV conducted road trauma awareness seminars, often with people referred to them by the Magistrates’ Court.

“It’s called restorative justice because it’s very healing for our volunteers to tell their stories,” she said.

“It’s also very impactful for the participants, because they’re face-to-face with someone who they could have caused trauma to. They have a recognition and realisation of that.”

Ms Maher said RTSSV’s road safety message was important at a time when people were returning to the roads in increasing numbers following an easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I think lives lost on Victorian roads are down nearly 20 per cent from this time last year. Is that because of the COVID restrictions with fewer people on the road, or is it because people are making safer choices? Unfortunately, I think it’s because there are fewer people on the road.

“We’re losing 200 lives a year on our roads. You see WorkSafe ads all the time about people losing their lives at work. You see so much coverage of COVID-19 and people losing their lives to that, but nobody is talking about road safety.

“What I say at the end of every session is that something everyone can do is continue the conversation outside of the classroom.

“Heightened awareness means people are more likely to make safer choices, so we just need to keep the conversation going.”

People can register for Sunday’s Time for Remembering service by visiting events.humanitix.com/time-for-remembering.

More information about the service and RTSSV is available at rtssv.org.au/time-for-remembering.

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