Bereaved Inverness parents thanked by MSP for their inspirational support in road safety campaign
AN Inverness couple have been commended for their relentless backing of a road safety campaign after their teenage son was killed in a car crash almost a decade ago.
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament to mark Road Safety Week, praising Diane and Graham Matheson for their “inspirational support” for his long-running ongoing battle to persuade the UK Government to bring in a graduated driving licence.
The scheme, which puts a set of restrictions on drivers who have recently passed their test, has proven to cut the road death toll in other countries.
The Mathesons have been strong campaigners for the initiative.
Their eldest son Callum was killed on Island Bank Road in Inverness on March 28, 2010 after the car he was travelling in hit a wall.
It was being driven by his friend, 17-year-old Ahlee Jackson, who was also killed.
Mr Stewart recalled Callum's parents first getting involved in the campaign.
“The Mathesons came to me soon after Callum died asking me to do something, anything, to stop the carnage on Highland and Moray roads," he said.
"I launched a campaign for a graduated licence scheme after studying its life-saving impact in other countries where it was in operation.
"This scheme saves lives by restricting new drivers’ exposure to the conditions in which they are statistically most likely to crash which is at night or while driving with their friends in the car.
"There are, of course, common-sense exemptions that have to be put in place.
"Young people couldn’t possibly be banned from driving to work after dark, for example.
"But the important thing is that this reduces the road crash death toll and makes our roads safer for our young ones.”
This summer, Mr Stewart submitted evidence to a road safety inquiry being undertaken by the Transport Select Committee at Westminster.
“I lodged the motion this week because I wanted to thank Diane and Graham for their inspirational support for this campaign, which will go on,” he said.
Mrs Matheson reiterated the couple's support for the campaign.
“Graham and I both feel a graduated licence is the way forward," she said.
“Banning driving at night is going to be a difficult one because it gets dark so early in the winter here, so it would definitely need to have some leeway built-in for young drivers but if this kind of scheme can work in countries like Finland it is definitely worth trying here.
We will always support David with this.”
She added: “Another Christmas beckons without our darling son. An empty space at the dinner table.
"If we can prevent another family enduring this agony because a graduated driving licence had been introduced, then this could be Callum’s legacy.”