I established this blog to have conversations with people before the Bless This Road event to be held in Uki, NSW on 30 September 2018.
At that event, we will remember three beautiful people who lost their lives on the Kyogle Road near Braeside Drive in Uki – in two separate car crashes. Matilda Bevelander, her 16-year old daughter, Cecilia Bevelander, and my husband, Karl Langheinrich, would be with us today if that road had been properly planned, designed, and managed. But it was not and they died tragically in crashes there.
I blessedly survived and it’s my job to tell their story so that others will not die in similar circumstances.
Karl Langheinrich, 2014
Matilda Bevelander, 2014
Now the road is being repaired and we are gathering – friends and family of all three people – to celebrate their lives, to heal our brokenness in losing them, to learn more about what constitutes road safety in the modern professional world, to bless the new road, and to say our final farewells to our loved ones. We have asked local people, our neighbours, friends, and family to accompany us on this final stage of our mourning journeys.
What John Bevelander and I have learned since Matilda and Cecilia died (in January 2015) and Karl died (in February 2016) is that our roads need to be more forgiving. As driver error will always be with us, despite everything we do to eliminate it, we must put more emphasis on the design of the road: to have a Safe System to ensure that a moment’s inattention will not result in a death sentence. Cecilia’s momentary crossing the double line killed her and her daughter in a head-on crash. But actually, poor road design killed them. Equally, Karl lost control on a curve, skilled, the car aquaplaned, and we fell 40 metres into the Tweed River below. He drowned in front of me and I barely escaped. His inattention cost him his life. But actually, the road killed him because there was no guardrail to stop us plunging into the river below.
At the beginning of our Bless This Road event on 30 September, we will have a two-hour hard-hitting workshop on road safety to explain – and work through — the principles of Safe System approach. We have a leading expert to guide us, Dr Lori Mooren, who earlier in her career was responsible of road safety in New South Wales. The advice from workshop participants in the communiqué from this workshop will be sent to all senior politicians and road safety specialists throughout Australia and will be published in a leading UK online road transport journal in December.
I will explain the day’s program in detail in later posts.
If you would like to attend our event or learn more about Safe System approaches to road planning and design,
Wendy Sarkissian at [email protected]
or leave a comment on this blog