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Head-on smash survivor calls for roo safety education

SECONDS MATTER: Geoff Bray returns to the scene of the crash that could have cost him his life.
SECONDS MATTER: Geoff Bray returns to the scene of the crash that could have cost him his life. Matthew Newton

TAKE one look at how bloodied and bruised Geoff Bray's face is and it's hard to believe he's still alive let alone spending his recovery time calling for better driver education.

On dusk on Thursday, April 6, Mr Bray was driving home from work on Chinchilla Wondai Rd when he saw a large puff of smoke coming from the front of an oncoming car before it smashed head-on into Mr Bray's 30-year-old Ford station wagon.

Mr Bray "had nowhere to go” when the driver hit his car brakes too hard, locking them and skidding on to the wrong side of the road after swerving to miss a small mob of kangaroos which had jumped out in front of the vehicle.

Geoff Bray.
Geoff Bray. Matthew Newton

Mr Bray said while he was still recovering from the accident it was a good opportunity to have a much-needed conversation about the realities of driving in the bush.

"Motorists everywhere have so much to think about but out here there is also wildlife,” he said.

"It was right on dusk and he (the other driver) had the sun fully in his face and I didn't have time to think, it all happened in about two seconds and then bang!”

Mr Bray said motorists need to be better educated on how to drive according to country conditions and how to react if faced with livestock or wildlife on the road.

"There needs to be some kind of education, maybe when young drivers do their 100 hours to get their P plates, instructors need to spend a day with them or a couple of hours out in the bush, out on dirt roads,” he said.

"The instinct is to swerve and jam your brakes on and you can't get past the instinct.

"But I think the longer you live out here, you sort of get used to scanning as you drive, looking from left to right because it's not just kangaroos, it's wild pigs and sometimes a cow will kick its way through a fence and get out and that's a whole

lot worse, they're like 500 kilos.”

Mr Bray said the other driver was a young man from the city who was most likely inexperienced and unprepared for kangaroos.

"He was a young bloke from the city out here looking for work,” he said.

"I feel sorry for him, he just wouldn't have realised.

"If I hadn't been here he would have come across here and hit a tree.

"That's the other reason you have to resist the urge to swerve.

"Just try to take your foot off the accelerator slowly, put it on the brake and push with all your strength once you're on the pedal.

"Don't slam it on, it locks your brakes up and then you're skating not driving.”

Emergency services had to cut Mr Bray out of his car before he was taken to Chinchilla Hospital and later airlifted to Toowoomba.

He said both he and the other driver were lucky to be alive and fatalities could be avoided if motorists were taught to hit kangaroos rather than swerving to avoid them.

"None of us that live out here want to hit roos and smash our cars up, you don't want to do it but you don't want to have this happen either.

"It could have been so much worse.

"God was looking after us, it's obviously not our time.”

Topics:  accident chinchilla driver education kangaroo roads roo safety


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