Take care on the roads today in memory of Kate
IT WAS Wednesday, October 8, 2015, and 20-year-old Kate Henry was driving home to Dalby.
Just outside of Kingsthorpe, Kate approached the intersection of Kingsthorpe-Haden Rd and Yalangur-Lillyvale Rd - a known "hotspot" for traffic accidents.
According to police reports, Kate failed to stop at the stop sign and, at approximately 12.30pm, Kate's vehicle collided with a Land Cruiser driving in a northerly direction.
Kate suffered a broken neck and head and chest injuries. She died instantly.
Today is Fatality Free Friday - a national road safety initiative by the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) that aims to stem the road toll for just one day.
It's a day to highlight the importance of making safe decisions on the roads and urging loved ones to do the same.
According to ARSF, there were 1209 people who lost their lives on Australian roads in 2015 - Kate was one of them.
Last year, the figures climbed even higher - there were 1300 people who never made it home alive. Of those, 252 were the lives of fellow Queenslanders.
FATALITY FREE FRIDAY TIPS
- Always be fit to drive
- Stay focused on the road
- Scan the road ahead
- Keep a safe distance
- Drive to suit the conditions
ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said drivers need to remain aware of all the risks involved with driving a vehicle, especially in rural areas where the roads may not always be "five-star quality".
"There has been an increase in the number of fatalities so it's a worrying sign," Mr White said.
"Every decision made on or around the road can be the difference between life and death. We need to create a culture where every individual actively seeks to avoid risks ... behind the wheel," Mr White said.
"The challenge with Australia is the sheer size of the place, and the geography that's involved means it's highly unlikely that we'll ever have five-star roads anywhere. When that happens, it comes back to driver education and how drivers manage that situation.
"If the road dictates a different level of driver interaction or speed limit, then it's up to the driver to make that call," he said.
Kate's mother Marg Henry has spoken about her loss in the hope she can help prevent one more family having to endure the same grief they are now living with.
"We are missing her more and more as each day goes by. You just don't expect it to happen to your family," she said.
Kate was so much more than a statistic. Kate was a loving sister and daughter, a talented performer, and a fierce, fierce friend.
She loved to write, and was studying justice and creative writing at USQ before she passed away.
Kate was a fan of NRL and could often be found watching late-night games to keep track of the scores.
She played the Wicked Witch in Dalby State High School's production of The Wizard of Oz, and had a witch cackle that had everyone speechless.
Mrs Henry said when her daughter earned her provisional license, Kate loved the freedom of driving around and exploring the countryside.
"Kate would often turn a drive from Brisbane into a six-hour journey by travelling through Esk," Mrs Henry said, fondly.
"She just loved to drive.
"We need to be aware that it is a privilege to be on the road, and to give driving our utmost attention," Mrs Henry said.
"Vehicles can have a lot of distractions inside them, (but) when we are the driver, we are responsible for getting to our destination safely.
"Every time I go to Toowoomba I look to the mountains past Oakey, and I think of Kate," she said.
"Every intersection I come to, I stop and look, and I think of her."