A Scotlandwell woman has appealed for young drivers to take more care at the wheel to avoid the kind of tragedy which engulfed her family, reports Mike Delaney.
Olwen Bale’s 24 year-old son, Rick, was killed by a motorist in his early 20s as he crossed an Aberdeen street with his girlfriend - who was injured - almost five years ago.
Rick had completed a university masters degree in the city and was just about to start work in a prestigious job with a top oil company when the accident happened.
Speaking bravely and frankly this week, Olwen said: “Rick’s death ruined my life.
“My husband Billy died a year before of cancer, and Rick became my rock.
“He was my best friend as well as my son.
“He became a father figure to his sisters Kimberley and Victoria.
“I just felt numb after his death.
“I spent a year in limbo, unable to contemplate what had happened.”
In a simple, but heartfelt message, Olwen - who has been taken at least some comfort from by the creation of a memorial bench dedicated to her son in the close-knit village’s park - added: “Please, if you are a young driver, think of the consequences of taking risks at the wheel and pledge to drive safely.”
She called for young people to always drive sober, slow and secure to prevent more tragedies.
She was speaking in support of the latest campaign by road safety charity BRAKE, which claims preventable violent road crashes are the biggest killer of young people.
Richard Coteau, campaign officer at Brake, added: “It is unacceptable that more young people die in preventable road crashes than from any other cause.
“Every day, more families face the unbearable news that a loved one has been killed suddenly and violently, or suffered a horrific injury, in young driver crashes.
“We are calling for action to tackle this needless suffering and the huge costs to society.
“We need drivers of all ages in Scotland to show compassion at the wheel, to realise they have lives in their hands, and pledge to drive safely and legally.
“And we need the government to help young, inexperienced drivers to be safer, by implementing graduated driver licensing.
“We’re appealing for a commitment to this evidenced, life-saving policy during road safety week.”
A survey by the charity showed half of the 933 young people who took part fear for their lives at times when a passenger with a young driver and nearly six in 10 have been endangered by risk-taking peers speeding or drink driving.
The vast majority would also support a tougher regime for novice drivers - 81 per cent are in favour of at least one type of licence restriction, such as a zero-tolerance alcohol limit or tougher penalties.
Young drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of crashes that kill and injured road users of all ages.”