Shortly after our crash, I begin to focus on the dangerous rural road where Karl died. I am blessed with a close friend, Dr Lori Mooren, a widely experienced road safety expert with an international reputation. As my interest in road safety grows, I discover the ground-breaking activism of the European Federation of Road Traffic Victims (FEVR) (http://fevr.org/). The road safety efforts of FEVR and London-based RoadPeace (www.roadpeace.org) focus on improving the justice system’s post-crash responses. FEVR member organizations (24 in 2019) emphasize the importance of sharing grief and anger about the lenient treatment of offenders and the value of learning from people who have suffered.
FEVR also engages in advocacy to defend the rights of crash victims, wisely acknowledging that “the bereaved and injured need assistance and information to help them cope with the crash … but support services for victims of crime do not always extend to road crash victims.”
Also in the UK is Brake, a road safety charity (http://www.brake.org.uk/component/tags/tag/road-safety).
Their members argue that “every 30 seconds someone, somewhere in the world, is killed in a road crash.” Brake works to stop road deaths and injuries by campaigning for safer roads. It supports people bereaved or injured in road crashes and raises public awareness of sustainable transport. In June 2018, Brake welcomed a government move to address drink-driving in the UK. However, they argued that “enforcement needs to be complemented by stronger policy — we’ll continue to campaign for a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving” (https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1006189114276839425).
Closer to home, in Australia, the Sarah Group (now Safer Australian Roads and Highways: SARAH) was established by her father, Peter Frazer, to honor Sarah Frazer and campaign for changes to policy and legislation to ensure that lives are not lost in preventable and situations like the one that took her life (http://www.sarahgroup.org/sarahs-story).
In 2012, Sarah was a victim of a tragic crash that could easily have been prevented with more intelligent and safer road planning. When her car broke down, she organized for a tow-truck driver to assist her. However, while he was hooking up the car, a truck side-swiped Sarah’s car and collided with the pair, killing both instantly. SARAH’s call to action is: “Road Safety Champions! Commit to Drive So Others Survive!”
During several conversations with Peter during 2018, I am deeply touched by his love for his daughter and his fierce commitment to justice in road safety. I pray that I could be as altruistic, strong and courageous as Peter.
Smiling for Smiddy
Close to my heart are the brilliant and powerful messages communicated by a survivor mission beloved by my dear friend, Andrew Curthoys.
Until Karl died, I paid little attention to Andrew’s long and excruciating bicycle rides to raise money for cancer research. They seemed like a brave (and perhaps reckless) enterprise. Now I welcome Andrew as another person engaged in a survivor mission: the Smiddy Challenge (https://www.smiddy.org.au).
When 26-year-old Adam Smiddy, a talented Australian triathlete and physiotherapist, died from melanoma in 2006, his mates committed to fighting cancer. Since 2006, the Smiling for Smiddy volunteers have raised more than $AUD7 million for cancer research at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital. Also a survivor, Andrew is honoring his late father. In eight days in August and September 2017, 49 riders (including Andrew) and a road crew of 16 (many of whom had lost friends or family members to cancer) raised $AUD300,000 on a grueling, 1581-kilometer ride from Townsville to Brisbane. The journey is a triumph of camaraderie, guts, and determination.
My eyes fill with tears as I hear Andrew explain:
I’m riding to honor my Dad, who lost his battle with melanoma-related cancer in 2006. While I was preparing for the 2015 challenge, Mum was diagnosed with kidney cancer. In our family of six, three have had cancer. My brother and I have had many basal cell carcinomas removed…. I’m riding to help raise funds for cancer research.
WE MIGHT ASK OURSELVES…
Reflecting on these initiatives, we might ask ourselves:
Do I have such a project in my heart and mind that might honor my loved one?
Could I invent or build on such a project?