Storybook spreads safety message

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Dowerin District High School students India Quartermaine, 10, Sara Metcalf, 5, and Joel Richards, 14, with the new book titled My Family, The Elephant and Me.
Camera IconDowerin District High School students India Quartermaine, 10, Sara Metcalf, 5, and Joel Richards, 14, with the new book titled My Family, The Elephant and Me. Credit: Cally Dupe

Wheatbelt children have a new phrase to say to their parents while travelling along some of the State’s most dangerous roads.

“We travel safe, or not at all” has been repeated several times in a new storybook recently released by the RAC.

Written and illustrated by Perth artist Sean Avery, “My Family, The Elephant and Me” follows a Wheatbelt family on a road trip, highlighting road safety issues along the way.

The book encourages children to say the phrase: “We travel safe, or not at all”, to their parents, friends and family out loud.

With a vastly different message to the commonly heard, “Are we there yet”, the phrase “We travel safe, or not at all”, was chosen to urge drivers to slow down and drive safely, RAC corporate affairs manager Will Golsby said.

The storybook forms the next phase of RAC’s Elephant in the Wheatbelt campaign, a regional road safety initiative aimed at raising awareness of the Wheatbelt’s poor road safety record.

“The Elephant in the Wheatbelt project started a long-overdue discussion about the devastating impacts of road trauma and we want to make sure it remains a continued reminder of road safety,” Mr Golsby said.

“Whether around the dinner table, at a backyard barbecue, or during the weekly shop, our hope is this book will inspire important conversations about road safety and will sit firmly in the hearts and minds of Wheatbelt residents for generations to come.”

The new book was launched in front of dozens of children at Dowerin District High School on February 16, with the help of Mr Golsby, teachers and local police.

Coinciding with the book deliveries, and after strong community interest, RAC has also commissioned six artists to paint unique elephant murals in towns across the region — Dowerin, Wagin, Corrigin, Bruce Rock, Southern Cross and Moora.

Copies of the book will also be provided free of charge to all primary school students in the Wheatbelt during the next six months. The Elephant in the Wheatbelt, launched in 2014, is a road safety campaign which aims to highlight the regions unacceptable road safety record, encourage residents to take ownership of it, change attitudes, and help reduce fatalities in the area.

In 2015, life-sized elephant sculpture made out of seven wrecked cars was placed at several Wheatbelt towns, unbranded and unannounced.

Later that year, it visited events, shows and WA landmarks, to start conversations about road safety.

The elephant will this year travel to the six towns selected for murals.

WA Road Safety Commission statistics showed 20 people were killed on Wheatbelt roads in 2017, while 91 were killed on WA regional roads that same year.

Less than 20 per cent of the State’s population resides in regional community, but in 2017 these areas experienced more than half of all road fatalities.

Road users are five times more likely to be killed on regional roads.

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