Words of wisdom from ex-police officer

Retired police sergeant Robert Fisher said the hardest part of his job was knocking on someone’s door to deliver news of the loss of a loved one.
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Country roads have hazards around every bend, and every road userhas a responsibility to take extra care to ensure a safe summer.

There have been 79 fatalities and614 serious injurieson South Australianroads this year already, with the Mid North topping the list for the entire state with 15 fatalitiesas of November 16–already equalling the region’s road toll figures for all of 2015.

Distracted drivers using smartphones, not leaving adequate distance between carsand taking risks on country roads were the major causes of these alarming statistics, according to retired police sergeantRobert Fisher.

“The hardest thing is knocking on their door at three in the morning and telling them that their husband or father isn’t there anymore,”Mr Fisher said.

“When there is a death involved, it’s the family…it hits them the hardest.”

Mr Fisher spent 38 years in a police uniform, working all across SA and having witnessed first-hand what can happen on country roads.

“Years ago, because of the laws and not being able to breath test, more people took a chance.But since the laws changed and they’ve brought in the random breath testing wheneveryou’re driving,things have got better,”Mr Fisher said.

During his career, Mr Fisher patrolled Loxton, Snowtown, Cleve, Port Pirie, Goolwaand Clare, seeing families’ lives destroyed by careless driving or lapses in judgment.

“Now, everyonebetween the ages of 14 and 50 has a mobile phone,” Mr Fisher said.

“After a month ortwo months (of having an accident), a driver would have started using their mobile phone again – it’s just one of those things.”

Increased fines anddemerit point penaltiesfor mobile phone usage while driving seemed to be ineffective, Mr Fisher said, and while these penalties kept increasing, offenders seemed to be repeating their offences.

Ten provisional licenseddrivers were involved in fatal car accidents last year, and while not all of these cases were directly connected with mobile phone distraction, eliminating as many distractions as possible while driving couldbe a proactive way to improveroad safety.

“As they say, lock it in the glove box, put it in the boot. If you know you’re driving for two hours and you want to talk to someone: stop, have a rest, and check your phone,” Mr Fisher said.

Planning ahead and ensuringa place to sleep was organisedwhenalcohol was involved would also eliminatetheunnecessary risks and penaltiesof drink driving – and perhaps even save a life.

During Mr Fisher’s time with the police force, he said people were more responsible at big publicised events than they were at house or yard parties.

“They don’t see the police there, so they make the wrong decision when they’ve had a few, ” Mr Fisher said.

“They don’t think because obviously they’re not aware or they’re not planning ahead.”

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