wings and things

The dangers of driving on gravel

on October 23, 2013

It is nearly two weeks since the night of the accident in which my son was driving with four of his cousins and one friend in the back tray of his ute/truck. My family has learned so much from this, including the extent to which we love and respect each other. Responsibility for allowing the kids to go for a little ride has been shared and discussed, hugs have been exchanged, forgiveness has been a constant source of comfort to all I hope, but self-forgiveness is not so easy – not for me.

Even though I was the only one inside the house and didn’t know that my son had taken off with the kids for a second little ride, I should have already had a rule in place that this was absolutely forbidden. After all, it is against the law to have unrestrained passengers in the back tray of a ute. If I had had this rule in place, this wouldn’t have happened. Why didn’t I have this rule? Because it never occurred to me that my son would do this; he is such a cautious driver and has the reputation of driving like a granny! When they all came back from the first little ride and I realized they had been off the farm, I said to my son, “don’t do that again will you” but I should have said, “YOU WILL NOT DO THAT AGAIN!” If I had said that, this would never had happened. We are all struggling with our own ifonlys, but these two are mine.

What matters here is that, despite all five children sustaining serious fractures, with one still in hospital for some time, the longterm prognosis for all is full recovery, physically. Psychologically and emotionally, I think their recovery may be more complicated but as the young are so resilent, I hope and I pray that they will all unremember the terror of that night. For those in my family, who drove crazily around the outskirts of this country town, after my son’s panicked phonecall, looking for all of them, when they were only 2 kms away, the memories of our fear and horror will take longer to fade.

My son did a slow U-turn on bitumen, and was heading home again when he hit gravel and accelerated a bit, turning the steering wheel from left to right, just slightly, to give the kids a little thrill, and that is when he lost control and the ute fishtailed (I think); he tried to control it by braking, and steering it back, but nothing worked even though he was going less than 40kms.

If he had been speeding, hooning, drinking or a reckless person, this could have been worse. If he had coerced the children and snuck away for a little joyride, against our wishes, this could have been worse. The fact that everyone survived, and will recover, is the thing I tell myself each morning when I wake up to the horror of that night on constant replay.

When driving on gravel, be aware that your tyres only have half the grip they would on bitumen.
When driving on gravel, do not accelerate suddenly, even a little bit.
When driving on gravel, do not brake suddenly, even a little bit.
When driving on gravel, always go very slowly.

Nobody in this family – my beautiful family – will ever hop into the back of a ute again. Nobody in this family – my beautiful family – will drive without caution on gravel roads from now on.

My heart leaps with joy that everyone will be okay longterm, but his post is primarily to warn people of the dangers of driving on gravel, especially in a ute, and to never, ever, let your children get into the tray, no matter how much they want to, no matter how short the ride.

I am so sorry.

65 responses to “The dangers of driving on gravel

  1. Jan Norman says:

    All the rules in the world won’t stop a kid from doing what they don’t see as dangerous. This was the path created by all those involved. The good thing is they learned so much, and they will all be better drivers and better critical thinkers as life goes on. You are not even a little responsible for this.

  2. Just a tart says:

    You should forgive yourself as your loving family has your son, Both of you will need to recover,
    Your such a loving person, and not the only one accountable.
    He needs to see you recover and move on and trust life again, do it together for him. X

  3. Terry says:

    I hate driving on gravel and go out of my way to not do it. Please don’t blame yourself. It happened and you all grew closer, and lessons have been learned. You can’t go back and wish for could have and should have, it will make you sick. hugs and love you

  4. Rhonda says:

    It will do no good to tell you not to feel guilty Jules. We as parents do, that’s just part of the deal when we have kids. Intellectually, you know this, emotionally there are no words that will help. Hang onto the fact that your family is intact and stronger for it. Hang onto the fact the all will recover, in time, to be more alert, responsible adults, not just drivers. Hold onto the fact that this too shall pass. Prayers continue. Love and hugs…xoxo

  5. viveka says:

    Feel so sorry for Ming, but as Jan said above here – kids are kids – they are fearless. One of my best friend’s son was in a car accident and somebody was looking over him, he survived – 2 years late he was in a similar car accident, died 18 years old. It was just a bad accident – there shouldn’t be any blame game, just be lucky that everyone is okay and no serious injuries.

  6. I have always hated driving on gravel–hope your message gets out. Be kind to yourself Julie (hugs)

    • jmgoyder says:

      They are re-gravelling on of the roads I use to get to town and back to see Anthony. My car slipped a bit yesterday which brought the danger even closer.

  7. I cannot imagine what you’re going through. I’m glad they will all heal. And I hope their emotional healing is as strong. Blessings Julie. My heart goes out to you, I can feel your suffering in your words.

  8. Julie , please do not blame yoursellf. itwas a thoughtless accident and fortunately all have survieved and learned but you will be concerned especailly for Ming.
    Can i add that cycling on gravel has similar dangers, I know as I was stupidly racing my son a couple of years ago, hit a patch and came off resulting in internal bruising that took nearly 6 months to heal. A 60 year old, as I was then , should have more sese

  9. niasunset says:

    This is lesson of course for everyone, (including me too) even I don’t drive a car… but rule is rule and especially when the point is about life… to be in safe… Once again I should say you were all lucky and God saved you all. As you said it would have been worst. Dear Julie, you said right and nice about this event, I wish and hope everything and everyone to be fine soon. Thanks and Love, nia

  10. susielindau says:

    The kids learned a lesson. As mothers it is impossible to see into the future and protect our children from everything. Glad they’re okay.

  11. mrs fringe says:

    I’d tell you to ditch the guilt, but I know, for now, it’s impossible. ((((((hugs))))))

  12. mimijk says:

    The most critical element of this awful tale and lesson is that all are going to be okay. I think this will haunt Ming all his days as it will you. These lessons that are so hard and painful and unthinkable can’t be answered when we ask ‘why’. There are no answers – just incredible gratitude that you and Ming are surrounded by such a close family.

  13. I am so glad that you are writing about this and through this. The courage that you are showing by sharing your story to alert others as to the dangers of gravel is immense. You are completely right that in the range of forgiveness, self-forgiveness is by far the hardest, why are we more gracious with others than with ourselves? What if and if only serve no purpose here, they are only sucking energy away from you. I am thinking of Ming and I hope that he will eventually learn to forgive himself. I know that while it will take time for you to get to that better place, I am not worried that you will do anything self-destructive, you have others to take care of, Ming being young is more fragile and I am thankful that he has such a tremendous Mom, he is a lucky, lucky boy.

    • jmgoyder says:

      Thank so much Laurie. We are getting there slowly but with one niece still in hospital, it will be awhile before I can stop the anxiety gamut. Ming seems okayish but much more silent than he ever was before. Things will get better.

  14. tolego says:

    Hi Jules. In the country children ride in the back of farm vehicles as a regular event. (I’m a kiwi) Feeding out, moving from one paddock to the next, rabbit shooting etc, it is just how it has always been. It wasn’t even a consideration when I was a child that we should ride in the cab. The statistics are high for vehicle deaths on farms but as far as I know there has never been a specific programme to educate people about travelling in the tray. It is a common mistake and it isn’t until someone gets hurt that we start to look at these things differently. I know it doesn’t really help with the self recrimination which both you and Ming will be feeling but what happened is a very common activity throughout both of our countries and could have happened to anyone.

    There are a number of therapies which enable the body to release trauma, gently and effectively from the body. If you get a chance google TRE, Trauma releasing exercises. It would be good if you all had a session or two. another specialist who has written about this topic is Peter Levine, waking the tiger..healing trauma. Even cranio sacral therapy can help. TRE has been used to help people get their lives back after suffering Post traumatic stress from the Christchurch earthquakes. I have no suggestions for the guilt, you have my heartfelt sympathy and love go out to you all.

  15. I think the lesson to take away here is always, always have kids wear seat belts or be restrained in child car seats. Many of us have driven in less than perfect conditions (rain, snow, ice, gravel, etc) on a regular basis and we just never know when we could lose control of the car. Seatbelts are lifesavers. Terrible way to learn this, but it’s good to know the kids will be OK down the road.

  16. One of my brothers was the driver in a very bad car accident when he was about 17 with a car-load of friends. The car was written off but luckily no-one was badly hurt. He ended up having to go to court and, as he was a minor, my mother alongside him. It was distressing for both of them. The judge was very stern with him and laid all the blame onto him and gave him a huge lesson at being self-responsible. He lost his licence for a year and had to slowly pay back to my mother the costs of the accident. He was very remorseful. That brother today is 52 years old, one of the most caring fathers in the world and one of the safest drivers. He learned his lesson and never ever again displayed the same thoughtless behaviour to his driving or to life.

    What I am trying to say is that, even though it was an awful way to learn it, the lesson Ming may take forward into his life from this accident is a valuable one.

  17. tootlepedal says:

    Good advice to us about not driving on gravel. My advice to you is to think of all the times that you and Ming have made good choices and thought things out carefully and set that number of good decisions against this one time when things didn’t work out.

    Don’t make a bad time worse by bashing yourself up.

    Lots of love.

  18. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    There are times when rules are rules (and other times when rules are meant to be broken).

    It doesn’t matter WHO makes the rules. The important thing is for the person who is directly affected by that rule, (Ming in this case, as the driver) to know the difference.

    Some of us are naturally self-disciplined towards Rules, and some only learn by experience (of the breaking of that rule).

    Unfortunately, Ming (& his cousins) had to learn the second way on this occasion.

    Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

    Soren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855)

  19. Lynda says:

    You have such a strong and close family, Julie. I feel sad that you are beating yourself up because of what has happened. You did tell Ming “don’t do that again will you” and he did it anyway. He is young, and I remember a lot of things I did when I was his age. We think we are “safe” “invincible” and “it can’t happen to me” but it can, and unfortunately it sometimes does.

    You are a good mother, and Ming is a good son. An error in judgement has caused this accident, but everyone will be OK. This is the most important thing to take to heart.

    I feel for their pain, and the time it will take for them to heal both physically and emotionally, but the bottom line is, They are going to be OK!


    • jmgoyder says:

      All of the children are healing physically but with one niece still in hospital and I can’t breathe properly until she is okay. Thanks Lynda – we will all get there.

  20. dcwisdom says:

    Awww, Julie. I’m sorry. Try to go easy on yourself. You had no foreknowledge that an accident would happen. It’s part of life. We cannot control everything. Lesson learned by everyone. Fortunately, no lives were lost, so take comfort in that.
    Catching up with you. Haven’t read blogs in a while.
    Sending you big Texas love across the waves….

  21. Your pain is so raw still… the pain of what is but perhaps more even what could have been… I hope soon some will diminish for you and Ming and all involved…. Diane

  22. ksbeth says:

    it is not your fault, and i am grateful that all will be okay )

  23. dodsy says:

    Happy to hear they will all be ok. We had similar experience with jimmy. Quite awful. No drink drugs or dangerous just inexperienced. So 2 years later on boxing day, police knock on our door, charged with 3accounts of grevious harm. Its overwhelming. He still has no memory of the accident. Has the guilt. They are all ok. Just giving them a lift home, and hit a tree. Still paying the fine. Think all new drivers should give no one but their folks a lift! Now very wary. But extremely grateful they all survived 😏 hugs to you all. If is a huge word just keep moving forward

  24. So glad everyone will be okay. I know this is a mother’s nightmare for you. Sending you warm thoughts.

  25. FlaHam says:

    Julie, Ming has been forgiven by all concerned, he is not wreckless, he is not bad, he had an accident. Even you had the rule in place, it may well have happened. You and your loved ones have all forgiven Ming, you much forgive yourself, for the healing to begin, you must begin by forgiving that person in the mirror. Please take care, Bill

  26. janechese says:

    LOVE is speaking loudly here.

  27. You know just before this accident happened me and my mum were talking about how people use to ride in the back of a ute all the time, my mum remembers travelling from Newcastle to Wauchope in the back of a ute.

  28. elizabeth says:

    How distressing Julie, I’m so sorry you all had to go through this. I am sending prayers for all, and thanking God everyone survived and will fully recover. What a blessing everyone has taken responsibility and none are assigning blame which, as we all know, would definitely have happened in some families. (((Love and hugs)))

  29. Colline says:

    There is a point in time Julie when moms and dads need to let the children take responsibility for their actions. Nothing you had said would have prevented this from happening. Ming is of an age where he makes his own decisions and has his own lessons to learn. I am sure he has learned from this one – as have the other children. Now as the healing continues, revel iin the closeness and togetherness it has brought. May God bless you all.

  30. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Julie, I can tell you sincerely that I believe the temptation to ride in the tray of a ute would get to even me. It just seems reasonable – and look at the poor countries who do it all the time. I can fully understand why they would think it okay “legal” or not.

    I am glad too all are okay longterm. I appreciated reading this post. I had missed the detail of what happened.

  31. Abautomatics says:

    The mentioned tips to avoid accidents while driving on gravel are absolutely correct, One should always go slow when driving on gravel and never brake your car suddenly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: