Sometimes when the human face of road accidents is highlighted, there is hope that a sense of appreciation of safety is nurtured and appreciated.
When Nabila Village headman Pauliasi Namualevu reassured his adopted daughter about how much she meant to him as a father, he did not realise it was to be part of last words he would share with her.
“You are my daughter,” he told Salanieta Nai.
The late Ms Nai, a mother-of-four, was returning from a shopping trip to Nadi when she was hit by a vehicle on Saturday night, sustaining serious head injuries that resulted in her death.
The conversation was one Mr Namualevu remembers with fondness.
She had shared how important he was to her following the death of her parents. And she wanted him to know she considered him her father.
“She told me that she was the only one left in her family and that I was there when her parents passed away,” said the emotional turaga ni koro.
He remembers Ms Nai confiding in him about her life, and the fact that she did not have anyone else.
“I don’t have anyone else. You are my father”, he remembers her telling him. He said he was very proud to have raised Ms Nai who was a special mother to her children.
“We have a lot of children in our house and that was because of her. She always looked after them and they always wanted to be around her.”
Police said Mrs Nai was hit by a vehicle driven by a 41-year-old man.
The incident happened after 6pm along the Queens Highway near Uciwai in Nadi. Police said she was crossing the road when she was allegedly hit by the suspect’s vehicle.
This is the harsh reality of road accidents. A lot of things can happen. People can get injured, and people can be killed.
Again we say road safety comes straight back to us as individuals. For drivers, defensive driving must be an integral part of every driver’s lessons when they get their licence.
They must be aware when on the road, and appreciate eventualities and possibilities.
That means been cautious and having the common sense to appreciate different scenarios they come across when on the road.
Slowing down for instance when a bus has pulled over to offload passengers, in case a passenger decides to walk across the blind spot of the driver. It means being aware of oncoming traffic and those overtaking from the opposite lane for instance.
It means indicating every time you change lanes, and checking your rearview mirror every time you do so.
It means not talking on your mobile phone when you are driving, and no texting please.
Sadly Ms Nai was rushed to the Nadi Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Our national road death toll stands at 38 compared to 12 for the same period last year.
Now that is quite high. It’s important that road safety factors highly in our lives. It has to be a priority.
Lives could depend on us adhering to safety rules.