EYRE and Western region Superintendent Andrew Thiele has delivered more death messages than he can remember and it does not get any easier.
“I believe the hardest job as a police officer is delivering a death message – not the fight in the pub or the armed offender with a gun,” he said.
“You’ve got to knock on the front door and sit down and explain to the family what happened.”
He said every police officer had to do it at some point in their carer and they were trained for it, “but it doesn’t make it any easier” and they all had different ways of dealing with it.
He said police and emergency services workers among the first on the scene at fatal and serious injury crashes were just one sector of the community personally impacted by road trauma.
And the community impact is often even greater in regional areas like Eyre Peninsula, despite the region’s relatively low road toll.
Risky driving behaviour could lead to your family having a vacant seat at the Christmas table.Superintendent Andrew Thiele
“Because you’ve got such close knit communities, it has a wide effect when someone is killed,” Superintendent Thiele said.
“Road trauma has a huge impact on the community, not only those directly involved in the crash, there’s loved ones, family and the community in general that it affects as well.”
He said that was why police enforcement like speed cameras and breath testing was so important.
“I wish we didn’t have to take that enforcement action, unfortunately history has shown in order to get people to modify their behaviour we have to keep enforcing it.
“Risky driving behaviour like drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, talking on a mobile phone or not paying attention could lead to your family having a vacant seat at the Christmas table.”
Superintendent Thiele said police in the Eyre and Western region had run a number of operations this year targeting the “fatal five” – distraction, speeding, dangerous road users, seatbelts, and drink and drug driving.
“As sad as it is we do have to run these operations to educate the public and to ensure they’re not undertaking behaviour that might lead to death or serious injury.”
While police play an important role in road safety, Superintendent Thiele said it was a community responsibility.