As well as writing novels, I’ve always been a journalist, even if only occasionally in recent years. In 2016, I was invited by the RACV’s Royal Auto magazine to be part of a major project, covering the ‘hidden road toll’. It used to be that more than 1000 people would die each year on Victorian roads, but these days it’s more like 300, which is a fantastic reduction and a tribute to the evolution of in-car safety (airbags, etc) and medical intervention techniques. Victoria’s trauma units, at the Alfred Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital, are world-leading and breathtaking in their expertise and technology.

But the 700 people who don’t die now are not well. In fact, road trauma leaving thousands of people badly injured and in rehab. That’s what we covered, riding with the air ambulance, and being given access to the Trauma Units, Intensive Care Units and even sitting in on emergency surgery as we followed a group of road accident victims through their day or night of trauma, and their slow, painful recoveries.

The overall results are here, or for a specific part of the story, Trent’s Story is here.

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Trent McGaffin gets loaded into the air ambulance after coming off his motorbike. Pic: Meredith O’Shea. (RACV: Royal Auto ‘Impact’ series)

It was an incredible opportunity for me, as the writer, along with Meredith O’Shea (photographer) and Miguel Rios (video), with editor Seamus Bradley driving the whole project. It’s so rare for a journalist to be given such time, range and scope these days, and hopefully the project will save lives.

But also, such journalism provides a great feeding ground for my imagination, to take back into my novels, especially the Laver series, starting with Roll With It. There were a lot of genuine journo observations from my time on police rounds in Roll With It (and Let It Slide if and when we sort out publishing hassles.)

Don’t drive angry, people. The results are very, very nasty.

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