Campaign to make car crash footage compulsory viewing
Road safety chiefs behind a hard-hitting and controversial course for young people have called on the Government to make it compulsory for every youngster in the country.
The Safe Drive Stay Alive course lets participants – often just 15 or 16 years old – hear first-hand from the grieving relatives of car crash victims, who appear alongside the wrecks of the cars their loved ones died in.
The presentations have already been seen by more than 7,000 Year 11 students across Wiltshire, and have also been shown to everyone from office workers to soldiers.
Organised mainly by Wiltshire fire service, the presentations have been controversial in the past because of the involvement of road safety charity Brake, which co-ordinates the contributions by relatives of people killed on the road.
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Brake and its anti-speed camera message have been criticised by more militant motoring organisations like the Association of British Motorists, who embarked on a bitter row over the content of the Safe Drive Stay Alive roadshows as they were beginning to take off.
But now Wiltshire fire service wants to make seeing the presentation compulsory for all 16-year-olds, at first in Wiltshire but then across the country.
The brigade’s road safety development manager, Ian Hopkins, has created an e-petition to the Government calling on the Department of Transport to make the presentations compulsory.
“We have been really pleased with the response to the Safe Drive programme this year, although there are still a few schools that don’t take part,” he said. “It is a roadshow based around powerful personal testimonies, designed to make the audience aware of the nature and extent of personal tragedy and suffering a road traffic collision can and does cause.
“The roadshow leaves the audience fully aware of the risks they pose to others and themselves if they do not behave in a responsible manner when either as a driver or passenger.
“We believe this presentation is so powerful it should be shown to every young person as part of their school education before they learn to drive. National Health Statistics state that young people are more at risk of dying in a road traffic collision than from any other accidental cause. If we are so aware of this why do we not educate them in schools of this danger?” he added.
The Safe Drive roadshow has branched out this year to be shown to most soldiers stationed at army barracks in Wiltshire, as well as colleges and a number of businesses. The first public show happened earlier this autumn in Chippenham.
“The public show was a great success, and we are looking at running something similar next year,” said Mr Hopkins. “This roadshow fills that gap in their education and helps prepare them for life outside of education, so we think it is essential viewing.”