Shonna Ferris bstreetsmart Interview
Teenage drivers will hear chilling messages from young car crash survivors as well as witness a confronting car crash re-enactment as part of the bstreetsmart (formerly Youth and Road Trauma Forum) program. Now in its eighth year, bstreetsmart aims to reduce the high rate of youth injuries and fatalities on our roads by using real life scenarios and stories to drive the message home to those at greatest risk. bstreetsmart will run from Tuesday 21 - Thursday 23 August at Sydney's Allphones Arena and is free for all NSW and ACT high schools students to attend.
Tired of seeing young drivers over-represented in car crashes, two trauma coordinators at Sydney's Westmead Hospital took it upon themselves to establish the program to educate young drivers.
'The statistics highlight the need for an educational and prevention program,' says Stephanie Wilson, bstreetsmart founder and Area Trauma Clinical Nurse Consultant at Westmead Hospital.
'More than a quarter of our road trauma admissions are young drivers under the age of 26,' continued Stephanie. 'Each week in NSW alone, on average more than one young person dies as a result of a car crash.'
According to the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) website, a 17 year old driver with a P1 license is four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a driver over 26 years.
Established in 2006, bstreetsmart
(formerly Youth and Road Trauma Forum) has been set up by trauma nurses at Sydney's Westmead Hospital. bstreetsmart gives students who are most at risk, a realistic look at the trauma caused by road crashes and provides them information and strategies in an attempt to reduce serious injuries and deaths. bstreetsmart's contents and structure aims to treat young people as adults allowing them freedom to choose from a range of interactive exhibits. The program runs over three days and includes a realistic reconstructed car crash involving victims, police, ambulance and fire personnel. bstreetsmart consists of an exciting combination of demonstrations, crash dynamics and rescue, vehicle stopping distances and active exhibits. Each school attends for one day only.
For further information, visit www.bstreetsmart.orgThe Balnaves Foundation
is a private philanthropic organisation which provides philanthropic support to charitable enterprises across Australia. Established by Neil Balnaves in 2006, The Balnaves Foundation disperses over $2 million annually supporting eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities. The Balnaves Foundation has financially supported bstreetsmart since 2010. The Foundation recognises that driver education and awareness is critical in working to reduce the rate of crashes and deaths on our roads; particularly by those who are most at risk - young people. For further information visit www.balnavesfoundation.com
Interview with Shonna FerrisQuestion:
Can you share your story about being involved in a near fatal car crash in Sydney's West Ryde?Shonna Ferris
: It was just before 10pm on a Saturday night. I was driving home from a night out in the city to my house in Carlingford, going through West Ryde. I was going too fast for the road conditions as it had been raining earlier that night. As I was turning the bend, I slid out through the intersection and into a telegraph pole on the other side of the road. As it was pretty late that night luckily there was no one else on that road from the time I went around the bend til when I went through the intersection straight into the telegraph pole Question:
How long had you been driving for, prior to this accident?Shonna Ferris
: I was on red P's (probationary) when I had my car crash and had been driving for around a year Question:
What injuries did you sustain from the accident?Shonna Ferris
: I was left in a coma, had two broken ribs and a broken pelvis. My brain was swelling up and there was too much pressure so they had to remove the bone and replace it. Doctors (at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital) removed bone from my skull and replaced this with acrylic which is still in my head. I was in a coma for a month. Once I had woken up from a coma I was in Royal North Shore Hospital in a critical condition. I had no knowledge of my breakage of my ribs and pelvis as they had a month to recover. I had no knowledge of what had happened. A month later I improved greatly and was moved to Westmead Brain Injury Unit for another month. How do I feel now? I wish I went that bit slower and made it home in one piece that night. Question:
How do those injuries affect your life two years on?Shonna Ferris
: I have recovered physically and emotionally. I have scarring on my forehead and on both sides of my chest.Question:
What do you hope your story teaches other drivers?Shonna Ferris
: Just because I had my licence I believed I was fully experienced and capable of all situations. You may think that you know how to drive because you have your licence but it takes a lot of years to gain skills. You have to be in a lot of different scenarios to experience everything when it comes to driving and this takes time behind the wheel. Question:
How do you approach driving in the wet now?Shonna Ferris
: My parents taught me to drive to the road conditions and slow down in the rain; I just wanted to get home that night I think. By going that touch faster I didn't even get home that night, I got home three months later. It may have taken ten minutes longer I would have gotten home safely. By going a bit fast for the rain it can ruin not only your life but if someone else was on that road a touch earlier or later I would have ruined or made a big impact on someone else's life. Question:
What message would you like to give to young drivers, Australia wide?Shonna Ferris
: I've learnt a lot of different things from having my car crash. Your family members are the most important people in your life. Don't ever take them for granted or get annoyed at them for caring too much (they're the best thing you have). One little accident or mistake can ruin yours or someone else's life and driving is the most important thing you'll ever do in your life. As soon as you put your seat belt on it's the most dangerous thing someone can do.
Interview by Brooke Hunter