Passenger responsibility: Five teenagers, including the L-plate driver, were seriously injured when this Mitsubishi Magna hit a telegraph pole (pictured below) in Ocean Drive, Evans Head, at high speed on Saturday night.
Passenger responsibility: Five teenagers, including the L-plate driver, were seriously injured when this Mitsubishi Magna hit a telegraph pole (pictured below) in Ocean Drive, Evans Head, at high speed on Saturday night.

Make crash passengers accountable

SAFE driving crusader Rob Wells, of Lismore, has come up with a radical idea that may help combat death and injury among young drivers and their passengers.

The father of Bryce Wells, who was one of four young men killed in a horror car crash at Broken Head in October 2006, has suggested that passengers involved in a L-plate or P-plate car crash should be also fined and perhaps even charged in the event of a serious accident.

That way, he said, peer pressure might be leveraged against the driver who chooses to plant his foot in dangerous circumstances.

The idea, which has the support of NSW Police Association executive member Det Tony King, was hatched after last weekend’s horror smash at Evans Head, in which an L-plater lost control of his Mitsubishi Magna with four of his mates aboard.

The car hit a power pole head-on in Ocean Drive leading to fractures and internal injuries in all five occupants.

The youngest passenger, aged 14, was wearing a lap-sash belt in the middle back passenger seat and sustained the worst injuries.

He was airlifted to Lismore Base, then on to Brisbane’s Mater Hospital, before being transferred to Princess Alexandra in a critical condition with serious internal and spinal injuries.

Police have indicated that speed was a factor. But the driver has yet to be charged and investigations are continuing.

Mr Wells said that young men ‘just don’t understand’ the gravity of their actions.

“That’s because their brain’s frontal lobe remains under developed until their mid-20s,” he explained. Mr Wells said the average cost of a death was calculated at $1.8 million to the community.

“Why don’t we spend that money up front, before someone is killed,” he said.

Det King admitted that Mr Wells’ idea might be hard to legislate, but it was the kind of plan that he would like to see debated in public.

Just as important, he said, was the need to print shame lists in local media, detailing minor accidents involving drink, drugs and driving.

Meanwhile, Lismore speedway and Casino drag promoter John Lander called for greater driver education in schools prior to young people gaining their licence.

He said involvement in competitive motor sport at a young age tended to help those drivers understand the dangers of driving at speed.

“They can see that stopping at speed kills you,” he said. “On the road at night is not the time to speed.”



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