Road safety in the spotlight at Botanic Garden

City of Coffs Harbour City Infrastructure Director Andrew Beswick, Coffs Mid Coast District Acting Inspector Jarrod Langan, Cr Scott Wolgamot and NSW Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison.

CANDID reflections were shared at a solemn morning tea at the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden on 6 May to mark National Road Safety Week.

Driven by Council and Transport for NSW, the initiative saw a ceremony led by City Infrastructure Director Andrew Beswick – with about 70 in attendance including police officers and NSW Ambulance paramedics.

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Members of the public were there too, some writing the name of a loved one in a yellow-flower garden of remembrance.

“Every year some 1200 people are killed and 40,000 are seriously injured on Australian roads,” said Cr Scott Wolgamot who was representing the City’s Mayor and the Local Traffic Committee.

“Between 2018 and 2023, speeding was the major crash factor in the Coffs Harbour local government area – that’s 1.6 times the NSW State average.

“By making a personal commitment to be safer drivers, together, we can make a difference.”

Katie Dokmanovic from the Road Trauma Support Group NSW lost her eighteen-year-old son in a car crash on Christmas Eve in 2020.

Nicholas Hoenselaars was a passenger in a vehicle which had hit speeds as high as 150kph.

The driver survived but was jailed as a result and remains behind bars.

“For me grief steals the person I used to be,” Ms Dokmanovic said.

Coffs Mid Coast District Acting Inspector Jarrod Langan has spent most of his police career with the Highway Patrol and said speeding was a major concern locally, with 2451 drivers being caught exceeding the speed limit in Coffs so far this year.

He urged drivers to ensure they were in a “really good space” when they get behind the wheel – not fatigued nor distracted, and not affected by alcohol or illicit drugs.

He said if motorists could eliminate those factors “we won’t have crashes, they just stop”.

NSW Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison was a surprise guest at the morning tea and said two-thirds of the State’s road toll was on regional roads, “and rising”.

She said the State would roll out camera detection technology to monitor seatbelt use from July 1.

“We must do better,” Ms Aitchison said, “thank you to Council for putting on this event.”

Cr Wolgamot said all drivers had a role to play.

“It starts with me, it starts with you, it starts with us – hopefully it starts today,” he said.

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