My name is Adam Xerri and I was only 17 when I lost my best friend Philip Vassallo to a car crash.

"For as long as I can remember Phil had always been a part of my life. We became friends at age four and were close mates for 13 years through both primary and secondary school. Living next door to one another meant we always spent the weekends mucking around in the backyard and on weekdays we travelled to and from school together. Phil was the shortest in our friendship group, but he made up for his height with his HUGE personality. His laugh was infectious and recognised by many, he was known for his kind heart and for striving to achieve. He was also very humble.

I was finalizing a school assignment and preparing to meet up with Phil and the rest of our mates when I received several phone calls. My friends explained that Phil had been in a car accident. At the time, I was unsure of Phil’s condition as it was conveyed to me as a major, but non-life-threatening, incident. It wasn’t until I received the call from another friend, explaining that I should come to the scene, that I gathered that the incident was very serious.

I remember getting to the scene and a police officer asking if I was a close friend of those in the crash. The road was closed by the general public, so I parked at a service station which was only a few meters away and was confronted by several of my close friends. I will never forget being told that ‘Phil had passed away’. There are no words to describe the feelings I felt when I was told this. I felt like I was in a terrible nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. I was denying that Phil had passed away, and still 5 years on, I will never forget the moment. It will stay with me forever.

Phil was my longest standing friend and was part of my family. Losing the forever friend, which only some of us are lucky to have, for me, is the hardest personal experience I have ever dealt with.

It took years to return to normality and still when his story is mentioned in daily conversation, even now, it's extremely difficult.

Phil’s death has changed the way I see life now. Although I become complacent from time to time, it has taught me to be grateful for every day and cherish the people and things I love. When I think about road trauma, I wish that teenagers and young adult drivers understood that they too can be confronted by a serious accident or road trauma. It’s only once you experience it firsthand, or when a loved one is involved in a road trauma incident, that you truly realise that it is very real and is very possible.

A key contributing factor to take away from Phil’s death is the little protection his Datsun 1200 Ute gave him. The blue Datsun is the icon for this renowned foundation, it is a key reminder that they cars we choose to drive can be the difference between an injury or a fatality. We need to choose the right car for our children and inexperienced drivers learning on our roads. Having a car manufactured at least 2010 or later will ensure that the most protection to the driver and their passengers are provided. I strongly feel that if we limited or restricted the cars that we allow young drivers to purchase, we will save a lot of young lives, their families and their communities from road trauma”.

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Road trauma is a serious issue in Australia that impacts thousands of individuals, families and communities every year. What can you do to play your part in reducing the toll on our community? 

Our sincere thanks to Adam for telling his story.