Police officers Senior Sergeant Damian Keegan, Leading Senior Constable Kat Mills, Sergeant Heidi Twining, and guest speaker Detective Sergeant Stephen Hill, from the Major Collisions Investigation Unit, at the Cool Heads young drivers’ program in Wallan last week.

By Tricia Mifsud

FOR the first time in its 14-year history, the Cool Heads young drivers’ program presented in the Mitchell Shire. 

The program is an opportunity for young drivers and parents to understand the consequences associated with road trauma and to discuss safe driving with police and guest presenters. 

Cool Heads is usually in the Shepparton region, but Wallan Secondary College hosted a session last week.

Members of the Mitchell Police Service Area Proactive Policing Unit attended, along with four guest speakers – each sharing their experiences in relation to collisions and road trauma. 

Leading Senior Constable Brooke Malane said the team was pleased with the success of evening. 

“Being the first Cool Heads event in the Mitchell PSA and a first for Wallan as well…it went very well,” she said. 

“[The program] highlights the real consequence of driving while distracted and risk-taking through a thought-provoking and powerful way. 

“We got a lot of positive feedback from those who attended, which included parents and families, members of the school community, people from sporting clubs and the media.” 

The guest speakers included Detective Sergeant Stephen Hill, from Major Collisions Investigation Unit, Murrindindi MICA paramedic Peter Scott, Carrol Harrop, mother of Shane Williams who died in a road collision, and Senior Constable Matthew Dengerink, from Cardinia Highway Patrol. 

Det Seg Hill introduced the audience the risks exposed to young drivers and identified the leading causes of road collisions. 

“In real life, cars kill people and unless you make good choices and decisions when you drive those cars, the reality is the car will kill you,” he said. 

“The leading causes of car crashes on our roads are speed, alcohol, drugs, fatigue, and behaviour … and the reality of road trauma is every 80 minutes someone is injured, every eight hours someone is seriously injured, and every 30 hours someone dies.” 

Snr Con Malane said it was important to bring Cool Heads to the Mitchell Shire as the area underwent a major population growth period. 

“Mitchell PSA, and particularly Wallan, is a growth area so that was a reason in choosing the area but ideally we’d love for this program to be Victoria-wide,” she said. 

“There is an immediate increased risk with young drivers when they get their P’s, but to have something like this before they get on the road might make them aware of the dangers when driving. 

“This was a community event for young drivers, but it’s also for the parents to reinforce the messages from police and other emergency services and groups pushing messages about road trauma.”