YEAR 12 students on the Mornington Peninsula are being shown the confronting and horrific consequences of road trauma – and it could be saving their lives.
As part of a program supported by emergency services, Teenagers Road Accident Group (TRAG) has been running presentations on road safety that show students the reality of careless driving, speed or simply making poor choices when it comes to getting into vehicles.
Project manager Jonelle Colabufalo, whose brother Jared Dunscombe – a former Mornington Peninsula student – was killed on the road in 2013, said the program increases the awareness of young people to the dangers of modern driving.
Dunscombe was hit by a car when he was seven — sustaining life-threatening injuries, including to his brain. Doctors gave him no chance of survival and he spent three and a half weeks in a coma.
He not only survived but lived a life full of achievements: he finished school, went to university, started a retail sports store and trekked the Kokoda Trail.
But tragedy struck a second time when Dunscombe was killed on 22 February 2013, aged 31, after falling from his bike while taking part in a charity cycling event and was struck by a truck and trailer travelling in the same direction. He was taking part in his second Rotary Ride to Conference charity bike ride. The ride raised $66,000 for three Rotary projects.
Since Dunscombe’s death, Colabufalo has made it her mission to raise awareness of road safety to try to prevent further tragedy.
She said her brother, who was heavily involved in charity work and was posthumously awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary District 9820 for his contribution to the community, was an inspiration to all who knew him.
“Everyone who met Jared remembers his big smile, his loving personality and his zest for life. He always went out of his way to help others. He was determined, courageous and an inspiration to all who knew him,” Colabufalo said.
Over two TRAG presentations at the New Peninsula Baptist Church Auditorium, Mount Martha in May and June this year, more than 2100 year 12 students heard Dunscombe’s story and listened to first-hand accounts from first responders, families and friends of other people killed on the roads.
The stories are raw and hard-hitting, but it helps to get the important message through, Colabufalo says.
“Many young people don’t think about the consequences of getting into a car with a drunk driver, or not paying attention on the roads, but when they see what can happen and the suffering that results, it makes them stop and think” she said.
“It’s a powerful presentation and we do have students and teachers who have tears in the eyes at some of stories and pictures, but it’s reality and it puts a human face on the importance of road safety.”
Teenagers Road Accident Group (TRAG) has been providing road trauma presentations to secondary schools on and around the peninsula and south east Melbourne since 1999. It is widely acknowledged as an integral part of resources to reduce incidences of road trauma in the 15-25 age group, the community’s most vulnerable.
Colabufalo said all presenters volunteered their time and their personal stories in the hope of reducing the number of young people killed or injured through road trauma.
“Our message is important, and we believe that if it saves just one life of a student who attends, it will have been worth it,” she said.