ON THE BEAT: Sergeant Sean Relf shares the consequences of simple choices made on Queensland roads everyday.
ON THE BEAT: Sergeant Sean Relf shares the consequences of simple choices made on Queensland roads everyday. Tessa Mapstone

Hidden psychology behind driving: Part 2

YARRAMAN officer in charge and forensic crash investigation officer Sean Relf shares his thoughts on keeping safe on roads. This is part two of his series this Road Safety Week:

THIS disconnect from the reality of the dangers of driving is unfortunately what causes the overwhelming majority of serious road crashes.

The Queensland Police can only do so much to prevent people from straying outside the rules of safety through enforcement action and education, and ultimately drivers are the most important piece in the road safety picture.

I have attended too many fatal crashes where a simple decision made by, and somehow justified in that driver's mind, has caused their own death or the death of other innocent persons.

A basic decision to drink drive, resulting in a head on collision with another vehicle is completely avoidable.

The drink driver's selfish decision to knowingly drive whilst over the limit suddenly cannot be justified when they are standing before a Magistrate or Judge prior to being sentenced to imprisonment, or other severe restrictions and punishments.

Texting and driving:

The decision to answer that text message fractions of a second before leaving the road, suddenly seems so horribly selfish as your vehicle skids across the gravel shoulder and begins crumpling around a tree.

The inputs you had on your vehicle only seconds earlier where the brakes and accelerator gave complete control now disappears, the brakes aren't slowing at all and the steering wheel no longer directs you away from the big large gum tree approaching quickly.

The bark is quickly becoming more detailed as your body instinctively starts to brace for the inevitable impact.

At this point you realise, you don't get a second chance, you realise it wasn't worth it.

Taking the same example and replacing the tree with another vehicle, imagine the look of fear on the face of the driver you have drifted into the path of.

Could you ever explain to them the text message you had to send at that moment, was important enough to set the current course of events into motion?

Have a look at your last ten text messages on your mobile phone and ask yourself, is any one single message of such value that it justified taking your driving attention away and potentially taking someone else's life or your own?

Before you even pick up that phone, now is your second chance. Don't do it. Don't risk. Leave it there, get it later. This is the only time you get the second chance, right now before anything happens.

Young drivers:

Young drivers are vulnerable and need guidance. Passing that practical driving test is the starting point of your driving life and the learning continues from that point until you stop driving.

Parents play such a vital part in young drivers and the behaviours they adopt, as those who set a bad example, become the role model for their children who believe 'if mum and dad do it, so can I, it can't be that bad...'

The disconnect between the realities of poor driving behaviour and the consequences are often not understood by younger drivers.

I recently attended a head on collision on an open clear section of road, where a young driver had drifted across into the oncoming lane and collided head on with another vehicle, ripping the front of her vehicle open and badly fracturing her legs in numerous places along with other internal injuries.

The look of terror on her face as I approached her vehicle and spoke with her through the gaping gap where once the front door and guard once was, relayed complete despair and confusion.

Amongst the frantic but determined efforts of Ambulance Paramedics and Fire and Rescue Officers to free and treat the driver, the reality of the situation is conveyed by screams of agony as her broken body which only a short time earlier was safe inside the vehicle, now suffers the horrendous effects of high-speed impact forces.

The smell of radiator fluid, oil, bitumen, fuel, exhaust fumes and burning electrical components permeates the air. Belongings once tucked away inside the car lay strewn over the road. This is the reality of that small choice you made.


We all make conscious choices every day.

Choices we make, for good reasons. Get ready for work, go to school, look both ways before crossing the road or play our sports and hobbies.

Generally, we make safe choices and don't intentionally put others, or ourselves, at risk of serious injury or death.

The thought of not doing so seems absurd because why would anyone consciously endanger human lives?

Surely then, the choices we make when driving a motor vehicle should be made in the same light and shouldn't be viewed any differently.

Ask yourself the simple question, would you act in that manner if you weren't driving a vehicle? A correct conscious choice in the first place, prevents the reality of things going wrong down the track.