One year ago today, on what was a peaceful Sunday morning, my family received a heartbreaking telephone call from the police in Adelaide, to inform us that my precious Aunty Jean had passed away.
I have always had a positive spiritual outlook to death, since I believe the soul is promoted through both living and dying, and that death is not the end, just the beginning of the next journey. At that time, I was comforted by the biblical verses that ran through my head, even while listening to my mother make and receive telephone calls. In fact it was the scripture I heard in my mind that I requested the minister to use in Aunty’s service.
Ecclesiastes 7:1″A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth”
Does this mean we are happy Aunty has died? No of course not, but it means that for her, this transition is more important and glorious. I also felt it was a fitting tribute because nobody had a better name (reputation) than aunty.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 “Better is the end of a thing, than the beginning”
Again, the spiritual value is on what happens to us at the end of our life, our metamorphosis, or resurrection, our karmic reward, our exaltation.
Our loss, though shocking, unexpected, and horrifying, was more painful for us than for Aunty, and was our burden, not hers.
It was this spiritual grounding that enabled me to be peaceful and loving with everyone who was in any way touched by this loss.
However, after a year, I feel that something is required from me. That Aunty could have passed away any number of ways, the fact that she went so unexpectedly in such a physically shocking set of circumstances leads me to believe that there must be a more positive purpose to come. I feel compelled to make sure that other families are spared the same suffering.
Unfortunately, Aunty was walking home from buying her Sunday paper, and was knocked over and killed by a car reversing from a driveway. I mention this because I feel strongly that this accident was completely preventable and that it is now my duty to spread awareness so that our loss of Aunty may prevent other families from suffering.
I see two immediate targets for my attention.
The first is the city council, for allowing tall property fences all the way to the footpath. In many councils this is not legal, because drivers cannot see pedestrians until their vehicle is on the footpath, in this case, a car reversing saw nothing at all!
The second is driver complacency. There is no education or awareness program for adult drivers aimed at reminding people of the very great responsibilities of driving. The police and government have their hands full simply trying to combat drink and drug driving, speeding, and reckless driving, they don’t have the resources to remind people that there is more to being a responsible driver than not being simply drunk and in a hurry.
One of the first things the major crash investigation team told us is that the driveway involved in this accident is “a very difficult one”. This infuriates me! If you as a driver know that you have difficulty seeing when you are reversing from your driveway, you don’t just shrug your shoulders each day and say ‘darn, wish I could see better’. You do something about it. If you do not do something about it, every day that you ignore that problem you are being selfish, lazy, irresponsible, and negligent.
The driver in this scenario had the chance to either, park on the street which is very common in this inner city suburb where many houses have no driveway or garage and parking is free. Alternatively she could have chosen to back into her driveway so that when she is leaving her home she is driving out, with a much better chance of seeing someone before it is too late. Another option, would have been to alter the property, taking down the height of a wall or fence. Installing a reflective shield – the kind like they have in hospitals so that people wheeling gurneys can see what is coming round the corner is another option, I do know they make them for car parks and industrial driveways.
There are so many things that could have been done to avert this tragedy, and not even this tragedy itself gained enough momentum to introduce education and changes in the very city where it happened. My mother told me that only a couple of months later a gentleman was killed in another inner city suburb of Adelaide in the same circumstances.
So I am going to start small and see where it takes me.
I am asking you to do an audit of your vehicle and driver safety.
Can you see? Is it time for an eye test, a new pair of spectacles, or a check up with your doctor to make sure you are safe to drive?
Do you take any medications that may effect you when driving?
Are you driving in correct footwear?
Are you carrying an injury that might effect your driving performance, especially in an emergency?
When did you last read the road rules?
Are you sure you know how to use a roundabout? Many do not, yet swear they do.
Can you see when you are entering and exiting your driveway? Do your hedges need pruning? Is there anything at all obstructing your view?
Are your children distracting you?
Do you have unrestrained pets in the car? Please use a pet carrier or doggy harness strapped into a seatbelt.
Set your navigational device before you enter the road, don’t be fiddling with it as you set out or motor along.
Is your phone off? Do you really need to be reachable 24/7? Have you got the ability to resist checking that text message that just came in? It’s not worth killing someone over it, I guarantee you that.
Are your brakes in safe working condition?
How about your tyres? If you think you can’t afford new tyres when you need them, just imagine the very great expense of being responsible for the injuries or death of someone due to driver complacency.
And if you are sitting here right now, and you can think of something I’ve missed, and you know it will effect you, then please, I beg you, do something about it today because there is not always a tomorrow for everyone on this Earth.
Let’s make Aunty count for something because she was the most outstanding person I know.