Natasha Riley's grieving mother is calling for better youth driver education.
Natasha Riley's grieving mother is calling for better youth driver education.

Natasha Riley's mum calls for youth driver education

THE question sends Anita Rennie's head crashing into her hands.

How is she getting through without her daughter, Natasha?

She collects her breath and lifts her face. "Don't know."

It is not quite four months since the death of Mrs Rennie's youngest child in a car crash.

But on the eve of Fatality Free Friday, she put aside her grief to spare someone else the same pain.

Mrs Rennie is calling for better education of young drivers.

Mother of Natasha Riley, killed in car crash, Anita Rennie talks about Fatality Free Friday.
Mother of Natasha Riley, killed in car crash, Anita Rennie talks about Fatality Free Friday. Warren Lynam

The straight-talking Buderim resident, who has two other children, would like to see driver education taught at high school instead of some of the other "crap" in the curriculum.

"Driver education is not satisfactory in this country," Mrs Rennie said.

"We're giving them 12 months or 100 hours in a car but only one-and-a-half hours of that has to be with a qualified person.

"They should be having more professional training before they have to go out there and defensive driving courses should be compulsory."

Natasha, 17, was a passenger in the back seat of a car being driven by a friend when it ran off a gravel road and slammed into two trees at Landsborough on February 4.

Flowers at the scene of the car crash at Old Caloundra Rd which killed Natasha Riley.
Flowers at the scene of the car crash at Old Caloundra Rd which killed Natasha Riley. Patrick Woods

She died almost instantly and the 17-year-old driver and a 15-year-old front-seat passenger were hospitalised with non-life threatening injuries.

Mrs Rennie bears no grudges against the driver, who was doing 20km under the 100kmh speed limit.

"I love her to death," she said.

"I can't imagine what she's going through. It was an accident."

Do you support compulsory defensive driving in schools for teenagers?

This poll ended on 21 August 2015.

Current Results

Yes, it's a crucial life skill

89%

No, that's what driving lessons and practise is for

7%

I'm not sure, I'd need to find out more

2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Natasha graduated from high school last year and would have started a degree in counselling and celebrated her 18th birthday this year.

Mrs Rennie struggled to describe the depth of her loss.

"I don't think words can sum it up," she said.

"The impact is so huge and affects such a large amount of people."

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"She always smiled when it was hard and she always made everyone else smile, talk and laugh through the hard stuff," she said.

Mrs Rennie admitted she was "not good" and said she was surviving thanks to the support of her husband, Dave.

Natasha Riley, 17, of Buderim, was killed in a car crash at Landsborough on February 4, 2015. Contributed photo.
Natasha Riley, 17, of Buderim, was killed in a car crash at Landsborough on February 4, 2015. Contributed photo.

"Without him I don't know what I would have done," she said.

Mrs Rennie hoped that by speaking out it could "at least help another person".

RISING ROAD TOLL

Twenty-nine people have been killed on roads in the North Coast and Wide Bay-Burnett region in 2015, 16 more than at the same time last year.

Sunshine Coast locals will soon have the opportunity to take the pledge for safer roads as part of the annual campaign Fatality Free Friday - a national initiative aimed at reducing road fatalities.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers associate Peter Cooper said the previous year's figure showed "we are capable of reducing the figure with driver awareness".

Maurice Blackburn will be part of a Fatality Free Friday public event - offering information and safety tips - at the University of the Sunshine Coast from 9am-3pm tomorrow.

"Road safety is something all of us need to take responsibility for, not just in ensuring our own safety on the road but the safety of all road users," Mr Cooper said

"Sadly, road accidents can happen in an instant, but the effects of these can last a lifetime - not just for the individuals involved, but also their friends and family.

"Already this year in the North Coast and Wide Bay region there have been 28 road fatalities, which is a doubling of figures seen at the same point in time last year.

"I urge everyone in our local community to get behind this important initiative to help raise awareness and to take the pledge this year for Fatality Free Friday," he said

 



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