Christmas tree installation serves as a powerful call for a change in local road user behaviour

A collective of Adelaide road safety advocates have today joined forces with the Australian Road Safety Foundation (ARSF) in a bid to drive down road tragedies this festive season.

Last year, 191 Australians were killed on the nation’s roads over December and January, 16 of these in South Australia[1].

These lives were honoured as individual heart-shaped ornaments adorned upon an eight foot Christmas tree, each ornament marked with the name and age of each victim of last year’s holiday road toll.

To launch the initiative the ARSF was joined by Associate Professor Dan Ellis, Director of Trauma at Royal Adelaide Hospital and Co-Chair of South Australian Trauma Service (SATs), and Elise Kennedy, who became a teraplegic as a result of a car crash and now advocates for road safety as an Ambassador for Royal Adelaide Hospital’s P.A.R.T.Y (Prevent Alcohol Related Trauma in Youth).

The ARSF is concerned this year’s holiday period poses even greater road risk with its research confirming that 45 per cent of South Australians are planning to drive longer trips this year, over flying[2].

ARSF founder and CEO Russell White said the festive season is a time where we all come together as family and friends to celebrate, but sadly, it’s also one of the hardest times for those missing loved ones lost through road trauma.

“So far this year, 90 people have been killed on South Australia’s road[3], which means there will be 90 families experiencing Christmas without this loved one for the first time,” Mr White said.

“There’s also been 776 serious injuries on the state’s roads this year – the hidden figure beyond the road toll – where people like young Elise Kennedy have had their lives changed forever,”

“Sadly, most crashes are preventable, they are the outcome and aftermath of a poor choice so we’re imploring road users to be the change we all want to see on the road,” he said.

Elise Kennedy who at just 20 years was involved in a crash that left her unable to walk said she wants people to understand the ripple effect of every decision made on the road.

“The course of our lives were completely altered because of one person’s choice to cut a corner,” Ms Kennedy said.

“It happens that quickly and we have the power to prevent it just by choosing safety,”

“Despite the crash turning our life plans on their head, we’ve gone on to build happy and wonderful lives but I’d just ask the South Australian community to start to reframe road safety – instead of showing resilience as part of the aftermath of road trauma, we need to look at road safety resilience as part of efforts to prevent tragedy occurring in the first place,” she said.

The ARSF’s festive season initiative is made possible by long-term supporters AAMI, Subaru and Giti Tyres.

Curtis McKay, Executive Manager SA CTP Claims (Acting) AAMI said: “As one of South Australia’s largest motor insurers, AAMI is continuing its commitment to keeping Aussie drivers safe on the roads through our partnership with the ARSF. AAMI would like to see all South Australians enjoy the festive season and make it safely to their destination.

“Being one of the largest personal injury insurers in Australia, AAMI would like to underscore the importance of the message from ARSF concerning choosing good driving behaviours in all conditions faced on the road. If you are planning a road trip this Christmas, prepare for all aspects of the trip, have your car in good working order, drive to the conditions, be rested and mindful of  the choices made while out on our roads.”

“AAMI is proud to support ARSF and this holiday season initiative, as we see every day the devastating effects road accidents have on people’s lives. It doesn’t matter where you live in a city, regional or remote community, AAMI calls on all drivers to make a commitment to drive safer,” he said.

During the lead up to Christmas, individuals are invited to visit and pay respects to road trauma victims by writing a message to a lost friend or loved one, or pledging not to be the reason more tragedy occurs. The Road Safety Tree will be installed at Jarvis Subaru, 190 West Terrace, Adelaide.

For further information about the Australian Road Safety Foundation, or how to support festive road safety activity online visit

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Frances Milvydas | [email protected] | 0431 296 499


[1]  Australian Government, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication, BITRE Road Deaths Database, accessed 1 July 2021

[2]Research conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of the Australian Road Safety Foundation, June 2021, n=1501 nationally representative by gender, age and location of Australian drivers aged 18 years and over

[3] South Australian Police, Traffic Statistics, accessed 25 November 2021