Musician and songwriter Pete Byfield is one of the biggest acts from the RAC-sponsored West Australian Music (WAM) Wheatbelt Touring Circuit. He’s from Grass Valley just east of Northam and most of his family is from the Wheatbelt area.

Recently Pete wrote the song ‘Country Wave’ to promote looking out for your mates on the road.

“I wrote Country Wave to encourage people to bring back the one finger wave. Doing the country wave (one finger raised off the wheel) ensures that people are looking ahead at all times and are demonstrating respect for fellow road users,” said Pete.

“I have lost numerous close friends in their teens and continue to lose them today – a lot because of alcohol and speed in the early days.”

“I drive the Wheatbelt quite a bit and began to notice increasing evidence of vehicles leaving the road with a variety of outcomes. Some would roll, some would hit objects and some were near

Pete Byfield

Pete Byfield

misses where the driver could continue on their journey. A lot of these incidents were characterised by black tyres marks emanating on the left hand side of the road, veering sharply to the right and exiting the bitumen on the right.

“Between Grass Valley and Northam, a stretch of 12km, there’s evidence of this type of incident six times. I’ve also counted evidence of six road exits of this nature between Northam and Perth, not to mention numerous others throughout the Wheatbelt.

Pete continues to witness drivers with their heads down as they pass him on the road.

“Inattention is the biggest issue on Wheatbelt roads. I have observed clear evidence of people using their mobile phones whilst driving. I have made my own conclusion that mobile phone use, particularly texting. It has become a major contributor to road accidents.

“I have offered to take my song into primary and secondary schools throughout the Wheatbelt. Recently, I presented Country Wave at a school and then we analysed the lyrics.

“When I asked the student what I meant by “get your head out of your phone and stay out of harms way,” the answers included “talking on the phone” and “texting”. I then asked “does anyone know somebody who does that?” The answers included “my sister does”, “my mum does” and “our bus driver does”.

“The teacher said to me after the session that she felt compelled to raise the children’s responses with the principal. I said that if nothing happened then the purpose of the exercise would remain incomplete.

“Starting with future drivers may help – and they are good educators of their parents and siblings.”

It’s people like Pete who are taking the issue into their own hands and everyone at RAC is thankful for that.

At RAC, we’re committed to improving road safety outcomes in the Wheatbelt because the Wheatbelt’s road safety rate is 11 times the Perth metropolitan rate, six times the State rate and twice that of nearby regions.

Tragically, 26 loved ones died on Wheatbelt roads last year, that’s one a fortnight. And a death in a country town affects everyone.

RAC has sponsored West Australian Music (WAM) since 2012 to support their successful Wheatbelt Touring Circuit and promote road safety to the Wheatbelt community, because nothing brings a community together like music does.

RAC is promoting road safety through the Elephant in the Wheatbelt, a life-sized African elephant sculpture made out of wrecked cars who’s encouraging discussion about  the unacceptably high road fatality rate in the Wheatbelt. This spring, he’s attending a number of events, including many of the Wheatbelt’s agricultural shows. For details visit http://elephantinthewheatbelt.rac.com.au/get-involved.

“I think the campaign has done a good job in highlighting that there is a problem.”

Pete’s album was produced by Joel Quartermain from Eskimo Joe. You can hear the songs at www.petebyfield.com.

Country Wave

(C) Well the country wave is more than shooing a fly

It’s a way to say hello and say goodbye (F)

(F) one finger raised, is a (D7) dip of the hat

(C) Wait a minute (A7) who was that

(D7) coming straight for me could have been a tree

(G) close shave and no wave (C)

CHORUS

It takes (F) nothing to do the country wave

One (C) finger is the deal

Keep your eyes on the road

And your hands upon the (G) wheel

Get your (F) head out of your phone and (C) stay out of harms way

Do the country wave and  (G) live another day (C) (at end go to F)

(C) There was a time when everybody’d wave

Must have been before the texting (F) days

Keep your head up and (D7) survive

When you’re (C) on your next (A7) drive

We (D7) want to see back again

(G) Alert and alive (C)

CHORUS

(C) Well if you’re travelling down that lonely country track

Or heading down to the shops and (F) back

Don’t forget to (D7) give us a  wave

(C) Just one finger (A7) say g’day

(D7) We want to see you back again

(G) Do the country wave (C)

CHORUS

rac wam wheatbelt music

The Elephant in the Wheatbelt at a WAM Wheatbelt Touring Circuit gig.