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A Heartfelt Plea From Police

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Senior Sergeant Dave Tierney … “our greatest weapon in reducing this carnage on our roads is you, the community”

May 30, 2019

Senior Sergeant Dave Tierney, the Officer-in-Charge of Kingaroy Police, has written a heartfelt plea to the local community in the wake of the recent crashes.

We are publishing it here in full:

* * *

Can I start by offering my condolences to all the families, friends and those who are suffering in the local communities at the tragic loss of life across our community in the past few weeks.

There are no words or promises I can say or make that will ever ease the tragedy that will forever be part of your lives.

Can I also say how deeply sorry I am to the other drivers involved and ask the families and friends of everyone impacted by these tragedies, to hold each other close and look out for each other.

Sadly, incidents like these are repeated nearly daily throughout the State and around the country.

During my 34 years as a police officer it has amazed me how readily we as a society have come to accept the death of hundreds each year on our roads both nationally and locally.

As police, we no longer refer to these incidents as accidents but as crashes.

“Accidents”, as the word implies, may be unavoidable.

But I can tell you, in my 34 years of attending crashes, most have been totally avoidable.

Since taking over as the Officer in Charge at Kingaroy Police Station, we have continued our enforcement activities, continued existing education programs and implemented new ones.

I have used every opportunity at meetings and community events to push the road safety message.

I also reinforce to the community that for my officers to their job we rely heavily on the support of the local community.

This does not just apply to solving crimes but more importantly to road safety.

Yes, we have our Fatal Five that we educate and enforce – and that’s important-  but I’m not going to dwell on these today because frankly, I’m feeling a little jaded and disillusioned that a number of people in the community – far more than you may think – appear not to care, or believe it doesn’t apply to them.

The amount of traffic offences we detect daily from community members across all demographics is disappointing.

I have read with interest the comments in the media and social media from those who have solutions.

‘There needs to be more police, tougher penalties, better education or better roads. Young drivers are hoons.’

But my plea to you is it’s time for you to step up and for you to realise our greatest weapon in reducing this carnage on our roads is you, the community.

Not the emergency services, not the government, not someone else, but you.

As parents in cars, we model the behaviour to young eyes watching from the back seat, behaviours they will adopt.

Slowing down when you get flashed because the police are ahead, not wearing your seatbelt because you’re just ducking down the shops, just quickly taking a call or checking your messages on your phone, just driving a few kilometres per hour over the speed limit, not taking a rest when you know you’re tired because you don’t believe you have time …

The list is endless and each time you do it and there’s no immediate consequence, the behaviour is often repeated, and becomes learned by others.

We seem so readily to make excuses for our poor driving but not that of others.

No holiday venue, no appointment, nothing is that important that you need to take risks to get to it.

It is up to us as individuals, parents, families and friends to stop these tragedies occurring.

If you are in the car, call them on their poor driving behaviour.

As parents, model the right behaviour.

Talk about road safety and the importance of keeping vehicles roadworthy from an early age.

Tell them of your concerns that one day they might not come home.

Tell them speed limits are the maximum not the minimum, and to drive to the conditions – be it weather or road conditions.

No phone call or text message is that important to risk never seeing loved ones again.

It’s time that we, as the general community, all took some responsibility in this battle; yes, that’s what it is – a battle, to change our driving behaviours and end the often senseless loss of life on our roads.

It know none of this can undo the pain that is being suffered by those who have been affected, directly or indirectly, by the recent tragedies.

As the Officer in Charge of this station, not only do I have a responsibility to you as a community to ensure that it is the safest community you can live in, but I also have a duty to protect my officers’ health – mentally and physically – not just for their sake but also that of their families.

We’re members of the community as well, and the tempo of attending recent crash scenes and delivering the worst possible message to families takes it toll.

This is unfortunately true across all our emergency services and hospitals, and no, it’s isn’t what we signed on for.

I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank the local community, both individuals and local businesses for the support they have shown to my staff through phone calls, emails and even food platters they have dropped in.

I would like to assure you that I’m doing my best to ensure my staff get the support they need.

I’d also like to acknowledge the professionalism of all emergency services, tow truck drivers and council employees who attended these scenes as well.

I’d especially like to acknowledge the SES workers, who it must be remembered are just volunteers but who are always there whenever needed to assist.

Incidents such as these devastate those with personal connections but also have a ripple effect and touch so, so many others.

I was asked yesterday by the media at the scene of the most recent fatal traffic incident: What road safety message do I have. I was actually stumped and didn’t really have an answer.

Just get home safely seemed such a trivial thing to say, but as I reflect this morning at my desk, that is exactly the message I wish for everyone who uses our roads.

Please, please, drive so you get home safely.

Finally, if you are struggling to deal with what has happened recently, please seek support and talk to someone whether that be family, friends, other locals in the community, or professional services such as Lifeline (13-11-14) or other support agencies (which are readily found via online searches).


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7 Responses to A Heartfelt Plea From Police

  1. Carol de Knock

    Thank you Senior Sergeant Tierney for those wonderful words. Thank you to all the serving police officers, Ambulance officers and firefighters who are doing their best to protect us, every day. Take care everyone on the roads. Always be aware of what’s going on around you.💜💞

  2. Thank you Senior Sergeant Dave Tierney for your passionate words. I agree, we all need to drive to the road conditions, be aware of our surroundings and NEVER answer the phone while driving.

    Travelling at 100kph = 100m per sec. So much can happen in that second.

    One just has to be totally aware of the machine they sit in can cause death in a second if we are not concentrating.

    I can’t believe the loss of life in these past few days. So many lives taken too soon because of a crash that was preventable.

    I don’t know how all the Emergency Services cope with such devastation presented before them on arrival to an accident. So may we all drive safely to get home.

  3. Suzi

    Well said Senior Sergeant Tierney, I just wish the message would get through. Just yesterday driving home from work I had a lady in a car opposite me at an intersection, I was going straight through and said lady turning left. She was at a weird angle and half way into the intersection before stopping to look for traffic with one hand on the wheel and the other was holding a mobile phone to her ear talking to someone on the other end. As I drove past, I noticed she had young children in the back. It made me so angry and sad given that the kids don’t have a choice about their safety while riding in the vehicle. Again, sadly today on my way home from work at the same intersection, a male driver drove through while looking down at something in his hand (I’m guessing a mobile). People have to stop thinking it can’t happen to them. There is enough danger on our roads without adding unnecessary danger to it.

  4. Merv Olsen

    I only wish more people would take the time to read this heart-wrenching letter from Senior Sergeant Dave Tierney, the Officer-in-Charge of Kingaroy Police.

    It is so important that we all encourage each other to act on what he has written.

  5. Julie Treveton

    More signage showing the big picture of taking risks or carelessness on the road.

  6. Deb Frecklington

    Like many others in the South Burnett and surrounding regions, I am struggling to come to terms with the tragedy we have experienced on our roads during the past few weeks.

    It seems like every time we hear the news, another family has been impacted by the loss of a loved one because of a fatal road crash. No one can explain why so many fatalities have occurred in our region over such a short period of time, and we can only hope and pray this trend does not continue.

    My heart goes out to the families and victims. These lives have been lost in an instant and their loved ones will spend a lifetime in mourning.

    Our thoughts and thanks should also go to the first responders, the Police, Ambulance, QFES, SES, Council and many more for the difficult job they have had. I read with great sadness Snr Sgt Dave Tierney’s heartfelt plea. It is powerful, and I encourage everyone to make the time to read his full message.

    Living in the country we all spend a lot of time in our cars getting from A to B, and our journeys are often on single-lane highways, or unsealed roads which require extra attention and concentration. I support Snr Sgt Tierney’s urgent call for us all to step up and realise that we are the key to improving road safety. When we get behind the wheel, we must slow down, drive to the conditions, stay off our phones and focus.

    These past few weeks remind us that road safety really does affect us all. Please stay safe on our roads.

  7. Gerry and Bev Powell

    Deb, can you possibly get videos of accidents, showing whether the occupants of the vehicles were on the phone, or laughing and singing with the crowd, or just trying to reach across to grab something on the passenger seat etc? Then show these videos to all schools on a regular basis, including the results of the ones who survived who are now paraplegics, etc.

    It would be good if schools had visits to these victims in the hospitals.

    I think our biggest problem is overconfidence, and “I’ll be ok”-type attitudes, and doing what we want without realising how dangerous we are acting.

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