A young woman, who suffered permanent brain damage at the hands of a speeding driver, says her parents will never forget the knock on the front door by Police to tell them she had been critically injured in a car accident.
It was shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day 2018, when Tahlia Mardini and her best friend, Tegan, decided to accept a lift from a person they barely knew.
According to Police, the male driver was speeding and driving erratically, before losing control and crashing his car.
Tahlia was pulled unconscious from the mangled wreck and rushed to hospital with head and internal injuries and in a critical condition. Sadly, Tegan died at the scene.
Almost six years on, the 22-year-old has joined Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Bilal El-Hayek to urge young drivers to slow down ahead of the holidays, so that parents don’t have to wake up to the same news that hers did.
“I’m working alongside Police, Council, youth groups and schools to warn young people that if you don’t feel comfortable with someone in the car, you have the right to speak up,” Ms Mardini said.
“I had the right to say something and I should have! That could have been the stop to something that ended so differently.”
Ms Mardini still suffers from short-term memory loss, but she counts herself lucky to be alive and is committed to sharing her story as we come up to the holiday season.
“It’s a happy season, not a time to be an idiot and drive recklessly.”
“We’re meant to celebrate and hang around our family and friends – we don’t want to be waking up to news like my parents did on New Years’ Day.”
According to the latest statistics, speeding drivers were responsible for 41 per cent of deaths and 24 per cent of serious injuries on NSW roads. Forty-five per cent of all young Australian deaths are due to road traffic crashes and those killed, or responsible for their deaths, are aged between 17-29.
Mayor El-Hayek urged all young people to listen carefully to Tahlia’s message to slow down and speak out.
“Hardly a day goes by without you flicking on the news and learning about an innocent victim who has lost their life, or badly injured, at the hands of a young driver behind the wheel of a car,” Mayor El-Hayek said.
“Tahlia is reminding all young people that they are not invincible. We don’t just see these tragedies on the news, they happen to real people.”
Mayor El-Hayek has written to the NSW Premier to urgently review policies and strategies to tackle the alarming deaths and driving behaviours of young people.
He has also called on the Premier to consider introducing tougher penalties including zero tolerance, reducing demerit points before loss of licence, introducing double demerits permanently, more education in schools, tougher requirements when applying for a licence and increasing police patrols and visibility.
Council has developed education programs and strategies to increase awareness around road safety in Canterbury-Bankstown. To find out more, visit cb.city/RoadSafety