The Sun-Herald - Sunday 30 April, 2006

Take a lesson from Joshua's tragedy

By Miranda Devine
Page: 15
Section: General News
Region: Sydney Circulation: 519,068
Type: Capital City Daily
Size: 179.81 sq.cms

ALMOST seven months after sweet three-year-old Joshua Dundas was run over and killed by an enormous, raised four-wheel-drive in South Windsor his parents are still struggling with their grief and the fact that nothing has been learnt from his tragic death.

The driver of the modified Toyota Hilux that killed Joshua was not charged as police determined the little boy had run into his path. But Harold Scruby, president of the NSW Pedestrian Council, questions whether Joshua's injuries would have been so catastrophic if he had been struck by a lower vehicle.

Extraordinarily, the RTA has no safety standards or specifications for vehicle modification, making it a difficult safety issue to police.

"It's all left up to some backyard mechanic to certify roadworthiness," says Scruby, who has gathered evidence from experts showing the danger posed to road users by four-wheel-drives that have been custom-raised higher than the manufacturers specifications.

Scruby hopes to persuade the State Coroner to hold an inquest into Joshua's death. Part of his armoury is a letter from Raphael Grzebieta, president of the Australasian College of Road Safety, stating that raised four-wheel-drives are unsafe on any road at any speed. "They are dangerous both for the vehicle's occupants as well as other road users. They should not be allowed to be registered," he says.

Scruby's motivation is the desire of Joshua's father to make the roads safer for other children.

"I can't begin to tell you of my pain," wrote Paul Dundas, 47, of seeing his son's lifeless body on the road. "Nothing could ever prepare me for such a gruesome event, to see a three-inch-wide trail of his precious blood running into the gutter and his little blue-green eyes, half-open, still makes me shake my head in disbelief ... It's the first thing I think about in the morning and last thing at night and a million more times during the day."

Who knows if the outcome would have been different if Joshua had been hit by an average-sized car. But why take the risk?

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