A new beginning for SARAH
Just days after Sarah’s death, the Frazer family gathered to mourn the loss of their daughter and sister. It was then that Ben, Peter’s eldest son, suggested they do something to honour Sarah’s life and memory. “He said, ‘We have to do something in Sarah’s name’,” says Peter. “And he came up with Safer Australian Roads and Highways – SARAH.”
“I get shivers even talking about it.”
Today, the SARAH Group lobbies for policy and legislative changes to increase safety on roads around Australia, aiming to improve infrastructure and driver awareness and ensure everyone gets home safe.
“The novel thing about National Road Safety Week is about how you become the advocate, and how you become the road safety champion,” Peter says. “That I look after your loved ones, and you look after mine – we effectively make this agreement within our community that we're going to look after each other.”
The first Road Safety Week was launched on the back of a 23,000-signature petition to the NSW parliament calling for emergency lanes to be widened to the 2.5m Austroads standard, and for drivers to slow to half the posted limit and move to an adjacent lane if they see a vehicle displaying hazard lights.
But with the petition also coinciding with Mother’s Day that year, Peter and his family wanted to acknowledge all the mothers who had lost someone.
“We called it Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week. We thought no one would take any interest, no one would even care about it,” says Peter.
“What we found was there were so many people affected.”
A symbol for safety
The yellow ribbon, originally used in that first Road Safety Week in 2012, has gone on to be a highly recognisable symbol highlighting road safety across the nation.
The ribbon’s iconic yellow hue – Sarah's favourite colour – has lit up the Sydney Harbour Bridge, adorned buses, been displayed in police vehicles, and illuminated landmarks across the entire country.
Peter says that displaying a yellow ribbon in your vehicle is one the main ways you can get involved with National Road Safety Week.
“People are making a commitment when they put that yellow ribbon on to drive so others survive. To ensure the safety of those on the road to the best of their ability.”
But awareness is only one of the achievements the SARAH Group has made over its ten years of operation. In September 2019, the ‘Sarah’s Rule’ law was passed in NSW, meaning that drivers now must slow to 40kph when they see flashing lights, such as for accidents, police stops and for tow truck drivers in 80km zones.
Where the speed limit is 90km or more, drivers must change lanes if safe to do so, to give plenty of space and slow to a safe and reasonable speed. Similar ‘SLOMO’ (slow down, move over) laws have also been passed in Western Australia and Victoria. In Victoria for example, drivers must slow down to 40km when passing a stationary or slow moving emergency vehicle with flashing lights or an alarm sounding.
Advocating for improved transport infrastructure has also been a key goal for SARAH Group. Months after Sarah had died, Peter successfully lobbied the NSW government to widen the emergency lane by simply repainting the lines on the three-lane section of road (three lanes not being a safety requirement) into a two-lane road with a larger emergency lane.
“It’s now the widest emergency lane in Australia,” Peter says. “It set a precedent.”