Outback town changes name to SpeedKills

By AAP with AG Staff | February 24, 2011

A Victorian community alters its name for a month to promote road safety.

IN A CURIOUS MOVE, an outback town 400 km north of Melbourne has changed its name to draw attention to the dangers of reckless driving.

The
tiny Victorian rural community of Speed – population 45 – has become ‘SpeedKills’ for a month in the effort to promote road safety.

The move is a result of a Facebook campaign
created by the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and comes
after deaths on Victoria’s rural roads increased by as much as a quarter last year.

Safety awareness

At
its initial stage, the campaign encouraged the residents of Speed to
rename their town to SpeedKills through the social network site, Facebook.

A Facebook page set up to promote the campaign to young drivers had 10,000 members within 10 hours of its launch and another 10,000 five days later. The group now has more than 34,000 members.

Phil
Reed, TAC head of community relations, says “We’re trying to get people
to stay within the speed limits, obey road safety
rules…[and] realise that when they don’t, people die”.

The
name change was officially enacted on Friday 18 February, when local
farmer Phil Down also changed his name to ‘Phil Slow Down’.

Happy to be humiliated

Phil
says he doesn’t mind the potential chuckles he’ll have to suffer.
“I’m happy to humiliate myself for that cause,” the wheat and sheep
farmer told reporters. “I had no hesitation … mostly because we think
the campaign is a good initiative.”

His name change, was casually
suggested during a media interview a few weeks ago, but has now become
part of the TAC campaign. “It has been terrific … quite a venture to
take on,” Phil said. “Support has been great, some of the comments on
the Facebook page are by those affected by road trauma.”

The TAC
donated $1 for every Facebook friend the campaign attracted to the
local Lions Club, handing over $20,000 in gratitude to the town for
committing to the cause.

Both the town and Mr Down will revert to their original names at the end of the campaign on March 18.

“They’re proud people, they like the name of their town. Having them to do it for a month is reasonable”, says Phil Reed.

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