THE last few months have been a horror on the roads in and around the Katherine region.
Since January eight people have died and six have been seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents in our region, and there have been close to 100 other crashes reported to police, all of which had the potential for tragedy. The NT Road toll currently stands at 24.
It is time to stop this horrific trend - it is time to be safe on our roads.
The Katherine Times this week launches it’s BE SAFE road safety campaign.
Until the end of August we are going to tell the stories of some members of our community who have been affected by the trauma of motor vehicle crashes - emergency services personnel, the family of those who have died and survivors - in a bid to get every motorist to stop for a minute and think before getting behind the wheel - and BE SAFE on our roads.
IN HIS 4.5 years as Officer in Charge of Katherine’s Northern Traffic Operations Unit Senior Constable 1st Class Mark Soligo has come across most of the serious and fatal crashes that have occurred in the Katherine region.
Leading a small team of crash investigators Senior Constable Soligo’s often gruesome job is it to investigate motor vehicle accidents of all kinds.
“I would doubt that there are many people out there who have not been touched in some way by road trauma,” he says.
“Nearly everyone I talk too has a family member, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour or knows somebody who has been directly affected by the death or serious injury of someone as a result of a road crash.
“I know I have - in my time here in Katherine we have attended over 39 fatal crashes and countless other non fatal crashes.
“That’s 39 people who have had their lives cut short and 39 families that have lost a loved one, many of whom could still be alive today.
“Many years ago, we used to be called Accident Investigators; we are now called Crash Investigators because almost all crashes are avoidable - they are not accidents; they are as a result of someone somewhere doing something that results in a crash.
“Vehicles do not crash on their own.
“So many of the fatal crashes we attended could have been avoidable.
“If only she had worn a seatbelt; if only he had not driven when fatigued; if only he had not been drunk; if only he had not been speeding.
“These are the questions we have to answer for grieving family, battling to understand how a family picnic, the quick trip into town or the journey home could end so tragically.
“Attending these crashes affects all of us, the police, the fire and rescue crews, the ambulance.
“And Katherine is a small town - often we know the person or their family”.
“I urge everybody reading this to stop for a minute and think about their own road use, to think about their own safety and the safety of all other road users.
“Don’t drink and drive, don’t get in a car driven by someone who has been drinking, observed all the road rules, don’t speed and please, always were your seatbelt, always.
“If this campaign saves one life out on our roads then it has served its purpose”.