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Confronting insight

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November 25, 2016

(From left) Road trauma victim Damien Willoughby, Magistrate John O’Callaghan and Victoria Police Major Collision Investigation Unit Detective Leading Senior Constable Trevor Collins spoke.

Wednesday night’s Cool Heads presented a confronting and emotional look at the impacts of car crashes for young drivers.

The evening was attended by an audience of 155 that included a variety of guest speakers, including Major Collisions Investigation Unit Detective Leading Senior Constable Trevor Collins and Ambulance Victoria’s Brent Law, road trauma victim Damien Willoughby and Magistrate John O’Callaghan.

Det Sen Const Collins took the audience through a number of horrific scenes he has attended in his 20 years in the major collisions unit, and gave a background on what happened and the consequences the offending drivers faced, and the huge trauma it caused for the victims and their families.

‘‘I’ve seen it all and if I can change the attitude of one young driver tonight, it would be a big achievement for me,’’ he said.

‘‘Life as you know it can change forever in seconds when you are driving.’’

Mr O’Callaghan spoke about how you have to face the consequences of your actions and said there were so many mental and pyschological impacts for those whose driving resulted in serious injury or death.

‘‘Many of the people who survive these serious collisions when a passenger or an innocent person have died often say they wish it was them who died instead,’’ he said.

‘‘The trauma of knowing you hurt or killed an innocent person stays with you every day.’’

He asked the audience to consider their family, particularly their parents, when taking risks.

‘‘Losing a child, you never get over it — 25 years later, you never get over it,’’ he said.

Mr O’Callaghan said magistrates were supportive of the program.

‘‘Cool Heads is just as effective as me or another magistrate handing out penalties to young drivers; the courts are not the total answer to changing young driver behaviour,’’ he said.

‘‘Young people are listening during the Cool Head Young Driver Program, it is so graphic and in-your-face you cannot ignore it.’’

Mr O’Callaghan, who has been working in Shepparton for the past three years, said he had noticed a change in the profile of offences.

‘‘There is much fewer drink driving offences, fewer hooning offences, however, sadly there has been an increase in drug driving,’’ he said.

‘‘You just cannot take drugs before driving a vehicle.’’

Mr Law spoke about the massive mental impact first responders such as paramedics and also health care workers in hospitals experienced when trying to help road trauma victims.

Shepparton police co-ordinates the program, which has been a success story since it was introduced in 2006, with the number of Greater Shepparton youth involved in serious collisions significantly declining since its inception.

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