The most common causes of fatal car accidents in Australia, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), are speed, alcohol, fatigue, and distraction.
A significant 42 per cent of fatal crashes between the years 2013 and 2018 occurred at speeds above 100km/h, but booze is likewise a major factor in many fatal crashes, and inattention has become a common cause since the advent of mobile phones.
In that period, males made up 73 per cent of all road fatalities.
For the sake of a working narrative and, I hope, a strong emotional response, the journey below is written from the perspective of a male driver. A father. Ultimately, though, the gender is irrelevant to the message. I hope that will be clear, and, as we all go out to celebrate tonight and in the weeks ahead, that we all make the right decisions.
Lives and futures depend on it. So many more than just your own. You can blame road rules, speed limits and revenue-hungry governments for the statistics, but it's in your power to save lives.
Your little girl, who brought you such unfathomable happiness when she arrived into the world, has now arrived for her first day of school. She's excited, nervous. She sees a friend from kinder wave to her, but instead of smiling or running to them… she cries and hugs her mother, your wife.
You don't hear about this later, because you're dead.
Only recently, just these past Christmas holidays, has your little girl started to properly understand: you're not coming back. The man she has seen in photos and videos, the man she remembers only barely, when she can attach a cloudy toddler memory to a photo of you holding her tight and laughing… is lost to her.
Your little girl, who would pat your hand and clumsily, restlessly sing Twinkle Little Star to you at her own bedtime, leaving you frustrated and fighting back a smile, is graduating from primary school. Her mother, your beautiful wife, who you cherish like that first coffee of the morning and the Tigers and a nice winding road, is there... but you're not.
Your little girl sees other dads kneeling down to hug their beaming graduates, and she accepts one from her mother, your wife, who hasn't slept more than an hour a night in weeks.
You don't make it up to them later, because you're dead.
Your little girl, who would repeatedly and softly-but-not-gently kick you in the belly when you changed her nappies, laughing all the while, has taken a break from her studies to see the world with her fiancé.
Your little girl, whose fiancé caught an early flight home to reunite with the ex he swore he was done with, calls her mother in tears. Her mother, your wife, who misses you, and thinks of you always, and divorced her second husband last year because of it.
You didn't do the tough dad thing and pay a visit to the fiancé, and you didn't give your little girl a teary hug at the airport while whispering "he wasn't good enough for you", because you're dead.
Your little girl, who learned early that you can't waste the time you're given on Earth, has welcomed a little boy into the world. Her husband, the son-in-law you never met, suggests they name him after you.
Your little girl, exhausted, considers rejecting the notion. She says, through tears and gritted teeth, maybe you don't deserve it. You left her. You left her and her mother, your wife, who is there too and pleads for your little girl to understand you would have done anything for her if you could have.
Your beautiful little girl, who brought you such unfathomable happiness when she arrived into the world not long before you died.
You don't know if your daughter will honour you, or ever again think well of you.
Because you're dead.
Investigators at the scene, where your car collided on the wrong side of the road with an oncoming truck, found your phone open to Facebook at the time of the crash.
The police report said the cyclist you killed, a mother, died slowly on the road after you drifted into her at 70km/h, more drunk and tired than you realised. Your delayed attempt to swerve sent your car spinning driver's-side-first into a power pole, killing you too.
Speed limits are too low in most places, you always felt. So when you were doing 103km/h in that 80 zone, you were sure you were in complete control. When that idiot pulled out of the side street without properly checking traffic, you might've been able to slow enough to avoid incident, if you'd been doing the speed limit.
Witnesses said you gestured wildly and shouted abuse at another motorist who zipper-merged in front of you. You accelerated around them and, attempting to pull in front and block their path, rolled your car. You should have survived, but, as sometimes happens, you didn't. It was a reckless, foolish, selfish way to meet your end.
It doesn't matter how it happens. If you die, if you kill another road user, if you cripple yourself, if you're locked away for decades, it affects lives forever.
The lives of people who enriched other lives just by being born.
People who experienced moments of their own, and felt love and accomplishment.
People who had a wonderful and mysterious and worthy journey of their own to discover – before you intervened.
Whatever comes next in all of those lives, is your fault, dead or alive.
It's not just a quick text. A quick check of that email thread you had to skip out on when you needed to rush out of work early. It's not just a few pots. It's not just a stupid, revenue-raising speed limit. It's not just a bit of well-deserved vigilante justice.
It's a life-altering event. Yours, somebody else's, and the dozens of people caught in the wake.
So wake up.