Changing the way we think about speed…

I have viewed the new TV ad the Queensland Government is pushing at the moment, asking us to ‘change the way we look at speed’.

While the ad itself I believe could have been done better (it feels a little forced and contrite to me, although I appreciate what they were going for), I think the message itself is a good one.

We tend to associate speeding with fines and losing points, not with the consequences.

We need to think about speed in the terms of safety – like we do with drink driving.

But at the same time, its hard to do that, because it is so easy to do. Drinking and driving is a decision, speed is something that can happen in an instant, in a lapse of concentration, completely accidentally (yes I acknowledge people have been caught out just over the BA limit with absolutely no intention to do the wrong thing, but in general terms, and in the way I am talking about where it is obvious and you are putting people at clear risk, you choose to get behind the wheel knowing how much you have had to drink).

The reason I am thinking about this in particular at the moment, is that I was myself in a car accident last week.

NOTE:  We were NOT speeding, we were actually doing under the speed limit. But all the same, it has me thinking about speed in general, and how you are never ready for when things go wrong.

I was a passenger, my partner was driving, and we had a four year old in the back-seat, thankfully in the appropriate child seat and harness.

We made contact with a stopped car square-on at just under 60km/h (speed limit was 60km/h).

I was looking out the window, and didn’t know what was happening until it was well and truly underway. I hit those seat belts  HARD.

60km/h doesn’t seem fast, it seems slow. But trust me, when you hit something unexpectedly, it is fucking fast. And it fucking hurts.

I had the wind knocked out of me and after a few minutes wheezing like a crazy person on the side of the road (after frantically jumping out of the car to check and hug the little one, who was totally fine, he barely even cried the little trooper), I walked away with bruising across my belly and chest, a bruised sternum which took four weeks to recover from, and some very sore chest, back and neck muscles.

All from hitting the seat belt at 60km/h.

The hatch was written off with its back end now in line with its back wheels, and the war horse of a Rodeo we were in was buckled and very unhappy. Everyone else involved in the incident was thankfully unhurt.

Now, my injuries weren’t catastrophic by any means, but they still had a big impact on me and my life for the next month. And…what I am more concerned about is, can you imagine if I hadn’t been wearing a belt?

If the precious cargo in the back hadn’t been properly secured?

If the drivers of both cars hadn’t had time to brace, and/or hadn’t themselves been wearing their belts?

What if we hadn’t hit them square-on in the back but had instead hit their corner, spinning them into oncoming traffic?

Or if we had hit a soft, squishy person, rather than a stationary hatchback in which everyone was appropriately secured and protected?

Can you imagine? I know I don’t want to.

Rethink how you think about speed… because no matter how slow the limit feels to you, when the unexpected happens, I can tell you its a lot faster!