opinion

Editorial: Speak to your kids about seatbelt safety

EditorialThe West Australian
CommentsComments
Katie McGuire wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when she died in a crash in Kalgoorlie.
Camera IconKatie McGuire wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when she died in a crash in Kalgoorlie. Credit: Facebook/Facebook

It’s a simple — and potentially life-saving — act drilled into us from childhood.

There was even a Play School song about it, so ubiquitous was the road safety message to do up your seatbelt every time, for every trip. Click clack, front and back.

Modern vehicles screech a warning if you travel more than a few metres without buckling up.

But somewhere along the way, some of us have forgotten the message.

On the cusp of adulthood, Kalgoorlie teenager Katie McGuire had her whole life ahead of her and dreamt of one day starting a family of her own.

But that bright future was ripped from her when the Toyota Prado being driven by her 17-year-old boyfriend rolled over on a bush track near Hannan Lake.

She wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene.

A single, tiny moment of youthful nonchalance or forgetfulness may have cost Katie her life.

Now, her family faces the agonising task of planning her funeral and continuing life without her.

“I just feel like my heart’s been ripped out of my chest over and over again, every time I think about it, I break down because she’s not going to experience any of that stuff,” her heartbroken mother Dannielle Wilkie told The West Australian.

Every one of the approximately 160 deaths which take place on WA roads each year is a tragedy.

“It’s just indescribable pain. I honestly feel like it’s a dream. I still feel like I’m dreaming and I’m going to wake up and she will be asleep in her bed.”

Ms Wilkie doesn’t know why Katie chose not to belt up but she is pleading with other teenagers not to do the same.

“Please put your seatbelt on. Please,” she said.

“Normally she had her seatbelt on, but this time, she didn’t.”

Katie’s death reflects a wider trend of young adults in regional areas choosing not to buckle up. In March, the State Government launched a new advertising campaign aimed at encouraging the cohort to remember to strap in.

According to the Road Safety Commission, between 2016 and 2020, 408 people killed or seriously injured on WA roads weren’t appropriately restrained.

The crash which claimed Katie’s life was the third tragedy in a month involving 17-year-old drivers.

In late May, a 15-year-old girl died after a car being driven by a 17-year-old was involved in a head-on crash on Gingin Brook Road near Neergabby.

And last weekend, Dale Martin and his friend Ryleigh Land, both 17, died when the ute Dale was driving left the South Western Highway in Wagerup and rolled.

Three more families torn apart. Three more lives ended far too soon.

Every one of the approximately 160 deaths which take place on WA roads each year is a tragedy.

But those involving children and young adults hit a little harder.

It’s essential parents speak with their young drivers about road safety, including the need to make sure they and their passengers are wearing seatbelts.

It could save a life.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by WAN Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails