Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler and True Blue Greg Alexander visited Lismore last week to speak to local students about the importance of road safety as part of the Knock On Effect campaign following a recent tragedy in the area.
Lismore Marist Brothers Rams under-18s teammates Eddie Allan and Jaylan Stewart were killed in two separate car crashes which has had a devastating impact on their family, friends and the local community.
Fittler and Alexander, who have been touring other northern rivers areas including Ballina for the Transport for NSW initiative, addressed students at a local school before hosting a football clinic and having a BBQ with local volunteers.
The pair made the trip two days after finishing their commitments for the Ampol State of Origin series, which saw the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues surrender the Shield they have held for the past two years.
“Road safety is something that is close to my heart and I can’t stress how important it is for young people to obey the rules and not take any risks,” said Fittler.
“I know firsthand the effect it can have on families, friends and communities and it’s just not worth it.
“I’m proud to be associated with the Knock-On Effect campaign and if we can change some thoughts and influence some actions to save some lives then the campaign is doing its job.”
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said rugby league could play a crucial role in helping to connect with regional audiences and spread messages about the devastating ripple effect of road trauma.
“One loss of life on our roads is too many, but to lose two in a matter of weeks would be heart-breaking for Lismore’s local community and the boys’ teammates,” said Mr Toole.
“Our partnership with the NSW Rugby League connects local football clubs across the state with important road safety messages whether you’re a driver, rider, passenger or pedestrian.
“It’s devastating to think every 46 minutes, someone is killed or seriously injured (hospitalised) on NSW roads. That’s about the time it takes to watch half a game of football.”
In 2019, 353 people died on NSW roads with a staggering 234 of those deaths – or around 66 per cent - on country roads.
“Everyone can make a difference with the decisions they make on the road every day - stay under the speed limit, plan ahead and avoid driving tired, and make sure you have a Plan B when you’re drinking,” said Mr Toole.
“We’re continually grateful for the support of NSW Rugby League and this event is a great opportunity to talk with local people across regional NSW about road trauma in their communities and the importance of making safe decisions.”