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Saying It With A White Rose

Saying It With A White Rose

On Boxing Day the families, friends and supporters will remember the innocent lives of those killed by recidivist drunk and drugged drivers by wearing a white rose.

Several families have joined together for this symbolic gesture of White Rose Day. The families and their loved ones come from around New Zealand and include (alphabetically):

  • Debbie Ashton (1986-2006, Nelson)

  • Krystal Bennett ( 1986-2005, Taupo/Wellington)

  • Toni Dommerholt-Purchase (1969-2007, Papamoa)
  • Jonathan Keogh (1977-2006, Dunedin)

  • Leon Mason(1974-2007, Papamoa)

  • Mary Radley (1943-2004, Picton)

  • Simon Short (1963-2007, Papamoa)

“No one should have to lose their lives the way our loved ones did. In the blink of an eye their innocent lives were snatched by repeat offenders who should never been allowed to drive,” says Megan McPherson, Cross Roads spokesperson.

The families want political leaders to clamp down on repeat offenders and reform the law to remove them permanently from the roads.

“The people we are remembering were not simply road statistics. They were much-loved people who should never have died. They have left behind families and friends who couldn’t miss them more.”

“Together we are standing up to say public roads should be safe, civilised places where anyone can make a journey without the threat of being killed by impaired drivers. Yet while recidivist drunk and drugged drivers are left to roam our roads the tragedy can only continue,” says Ms McPherson.

On White Rose Day the families want to quietly remember their loved ones, and at the same time be resolute that the Government takes firm action against recidivists in 2008.

“Feeble efforts to reduce recidivism in New Zealand have been a failure. We now have a crazy system in New Zealand that recycles drunk and drugged drivers.”

In 2006 approximately 29,000 drunk drivers were prosecuted (this figure has been rising at about 1,000 a year). One third of drunk drivers caught were repeat offenders, and over 3,000 have at least three drunk driving convictions.

“We want it recognised that the only difference between traditional murderers and the 3000 recidivist drunk and drugged drivers is that their weapon has wheels.”

“In their hands an every-day motor vehicle becomes a two-tonne killing machine. Their choice of victim is random and their methods of killing are extremely violent,” says Ms McPherson.

When caught recidivists typically have at least twice the legal limit of alcohol in their systems and they are very much over-represented in causing fatal car smashes.

“The families taking part in White Rose Day live with the result of their habitual drunk and drug abuse every day, and we don’t want other families to suffer like us because recidivists share our roads.

“If nothing changes it will mean that by next Boxing Day more lives will have been needlessly wasted. This will represent even more pain, grief and shattered dreams that could have been avoided,” says Ms McPherson.


The road toll has increased this year, today it stands at 404, that’s 27 more deaths than this time last year and the Christmas holiday period still remains.

“Politicians are aware that the existing law allows these random killers to continue driving but amending it doesn’t appear to be a priority,”

“We want to make it clear that in 2008 politicians must deliver what the public wants – safe and civilised roads,” Ms McPherson says.

***************

Note:
Sensible Sentencing Trust’s Cross Roads web site is now live. Cross Roads can be accessed by clicking on the White Rose icon at the top of the Sensible Sentencing Trust Home Page: at http://www.safe-nz.org.nz/

The Cross Roads web pages include:

  • Several memorials and personal stories dedicated to the victims of recidivist impaired drivers.

  • Disquieting facts and figures demonstrating the degree of the problem or recidivism

  • Solutions which the Government should consider

  • Information about organisations with similar aims, including BADD (NZ Bikers Against Drunk Driving, founded by Jos Mason)

Background Facts
Why a white rose? The roses will be white as it is the same colour as the crosses on the side of the roads, and is also the colour of innocence.
  • The repeat impaired drivers we are referring to make up only 1% of all drivers on weekend nights but are involved in nearly 50% of all fatal crashes at that time (MHTSA, 1998).

  • For every 100 drunk drivers that kill themselves on the road, 56 passengers and 39* sober innocent road users will also die.

  • Drink driving convictions are rising by about 1000 a year.

  • Less than 50 per cent of NZ drivers believe it is likely they will be stopped at a checkpoint. (Lowest level since 1999.)

  • The average social cost of a fatal car crash is estimated at $3,881,400.

*Please note that the NZ Police are currently reported in the media as referring to earlier figures, stating that for every 100 drunk drivers that kill themselves, they kill 35 innocent road users. LTNZ latest report states that this figure has increased to 39 (LTNZ Crash Facts Sheet 2007, pg 3).

Sources (most full reports are linked from the Cross Roads website):

  • Survey of public attitudes to road safety, 2006: Summary of results (LTNZ)

  • Alcohol & Drugs Crash Facts July 2007 (LTNZ)

  • Social Cost of Road Crashes and Injuries June 2007 (LTNZ)

  • Repeat Drink Driving Can Change. RoadSafe Auckland report, 2001

ENDS

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