By Clair Morton
Published: Monday, May 14, 2018
“To this day I still think, why couldn’t it be me? One stupid move. If there’s one lesson you take from today, do not be like me.”
These are the heartbreaking words of Phillip Wright, who was speeding when he crashed his car into a tree in 2009, killing one of his best friends.
More than 8000 high school students from across the state listened to his confronting testimony over two days last week, as part of the 2018 Street Smart High, an annual road safety event hosted by RAA in conjunction with the Motor Accident Commission.
Hosted at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, the students on the cusp of driving were immersed in an educational experience like no other, complete with flash mobs, a full-scale crash scenario and touching personal stories from real crash victims and their families.
Eli Murn told of how his life had changed dramatically after he crashed his car in the Adelaide Hills while speeding.
SA Weekender host Kelly Golding shared her story of how her brother was killed by a car while walking home from a night out, while his pregnant wife was waiting for him at home.
For many of the students, one story stuck with them more than most – that of Nicholas Holbrook, the Seaton High graduate who died when Phillip crashed into a tree.
As well as hearing from Phillip, students also heard from Nicholas’s father Michael, who said the enormity of losing his 18-year-old son didn’t sink in until after the wake.
“Reality set in then, the reality that he wasn’t going to come through that back door the house wasn’t going to be full of laughter and music,” he told the students.
“I just want to ask you all to sit there and contemplate what it would be like to jump into a car with your best mate beside you and you were to jump in the car and speed and kill your best mate beside you.”
It’s a confronting thought, but one RAA Senior Manager Community Engagement Ben Haythorpe hopes will sink in for the students who took part.
He said the program was put on every year in an effort to reduce the state’s youth road toll.
“Road safety education is all about knowledge, skills and attitudes and I can’t think of a better way to get that message across than an event such as Street Smart,” he said.
Bookings for the 2019 Street Smart High open in November. Find out more about the program here.