Crash survivors plead with drivers to stay safe ahead of school holidays

14 April, 2023

RAA and two serious injury crash victims are pleading with young drivers to make safe decisions on the road these school holidays.

Latest SA Police figures show that young drivers (16-24) account for more than 19 per cent of serious injury crashes in South Australia so far this year, despite making up only 11 per cent of the population.

Nathan Johnston, 25, from Crystal Brook, remembers being told about the risks of making poor decisions on the road in 2014, when crash survivor Eli Murn came to his school with the MFS Road Awareness Program (RAP) to give a road safety presentation.

Nathan and Eli are came together today at RAA headquarters, to publicly plead with young drivers not to make the same mistakes they did on the road these school holidays.

“I didn’t listen,” Mr Johnston said.

“I was doing a burnout one night to show off in front of my mates. That’s one of the last things I remember before I woke up in Hampstead Rehab Centre two months later.”

Nathan during his recovery at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre

Nathan’s car had collided with a power pole in Elizabeth, leaving him fighting for life and in a coma – and now with a permanent brain injury.

“I had to learn to walk again, to talk again, my friends and my girlfriend left me and my life has never been the same.

“I want all young drivers to know they are not invincible, and if you make stupid decisions on the road like I did, it could have an impact on you and your family for the rest of your life.”

Despite his initial message not being heeded by Nathan, Eli became Nathan’s mentor during his four-month long rehabilitation journey at Hampstead, and the two remain in touch to this day.

Eli – who was speeding, lost control and crashed into two pine trees in the Adelaide Hills in May 2004 – said, “I used to drive over the speed limit and was a risk-taker on the road.

“Ever since my crash I can’t move around like I used to, so I devote my life to pleading with drivers not to make the same mistake I did.”

Eli Murn’s car after he crashed into two pine trees in the Adelaide Hills

RAA Senior Manager Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain said he consequences of one poor decision on the road could be tragic and permanent.

“Crash data shows young drivers who have just started driving on their own are more at risk of being involved in a crash,” Mr Mountain said.

“There are a lot of education programs out there for young drivers, but at the end of the day we all need to take personal responsibility for the decisions we make on the road, not only for our own safety but the safety of other road users.

“During the month of March there were 92 serious injury crashes on SA roads – the worst month since 2019.

“It’s a timely reminder with school holidays starting this week to drive responsibly and to the conditions at all times.

“The potential consequences can be catastrophic and lifelong.”