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Just one screen of the Impact series …

Impact‘, the massive RACV journalistic project that I was part of throughout 2016 – and still occasionally write for – was honoured recently with a Quill Award, the Melbourne Press Club awards that salute the best in Victorian journalism.

Our series won the 2016 TAC Towards Zero Road Safety Quill Award, ahead of nominees from The Age, The Sunday Herald-Sun and Australian Community Media.

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Nick Place trying to claim all the credit, posing alone with the award and hoping nobody can make out the names of Seamus, Meredith and Miguel that are also inscribed on the trophy.

It’s an amazing win, especially for Royal Auto editor Seamus Bradley who was behind the idea, tirelessly championed the series and drove the RACV executives to back our team for months before we could show any results from our work. It was the first time that an industry magazine had won a Quill, ahead of the traditional media mastheads.

From the start, our idea was to show the ‘hidden road toll’, which is the 6000 Victorians injured on the roads each year, with more than 1000 badly hurt and hospitalised for more than two weeks, often with life-changing injuries.

Photographer Meredith O’Shea, videographer Miguel Rios and I spent months discussing the series with hospital and paramedic media executives and senior police and trauma unit medical staff, before we then spent months attending road accidents, flying with patients in the air ambulance and then following their path through emergency, surgery and intensive care. We continued following them as they moved through rehabilitation and finally back into the real world, now carrying scars or worse from their accidents.

I’d like to thank sincerely all the road accident victims and their families who agreed to let us interview, film and follow them through such a traumatic and deeply distressing period of their lives. I’d also like to thank all the medical, paramedic and police staff who were so generous with their time, knowledge and insights, often while under intense pressure.

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The Impact home screen.

I believed very strongly in Impact, as a way of communicating to the general public and an RACV audience that irresponsible driving, using a mobile phone while driving, or drink and drug driving can have terrible consequences, that don’t necessarily mean you die but can impact your health and life dramatically.

It was fantastic to be part of such a strong series, to advocate change in driver behaviour, and hopefully make a genuine difference.