Young persons are one of the highest risk groups of death or serious injury, or of causing the same, on the roads. It is therefore of vital importance that they are fully aware of the dangers that can result from driving a motor car. Risks come from driving too fast, and the young all too often cannot resist the thrill of speed as they feel indestructible and are fit and possessed of quick reactions. But, overconfidence can bring disaster. So can lack of attention, driving under the influence of drink or drugs or using a mobile phone. The confidence of youth and the excitement that often comes from being free to drive whenever and wherever, can result in tragedy.
With that in mind, and with the intention of cutting down the cases of young persons suffering death or injury because of their manner of driving, each year for 18 years the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service has worked with teachers of all types of secondary schools in Surrey to bring 16/17 year old school children to watch a presentation about the dangers of driving on the roads. Around 200,000 have been to these presentations since they began. This November there were 18 performances over 9 days at Dorking Halls and just under 10,000 attended them, mostly teenagers of that age. But adults were able to come and watch some of the performances. During the first week of the 4,548 youngsters who attended, 2,578 (57%) scanned the QR code and gave their name, email address and stage of driving. Each month those who replied will be emailed further information about road safety and learning to drive.
The presentations this year involved talks from a Police Traffic Officer, a firefighter, a paramedic, an A and E Nursing sister, and the mother of a very seriously injured young woman, and the father of a very badly injured young man. Video footage or photographs accompanied the talks and there some reconstructed accident scenes shown. The drivers who drove too quickly or who drove over the limit in two of the cases were, luckily for them, not badly injured. But they have to live forever with the knowledge of what life-long suffering their driving has caused. A young woman who momentarily took her eyes off the road ahead as she approached traffic lights, has to live with having caused the death of a 3 year old toddler who walked in front of her car when she should have stopped as the traffic lights had turned red. She didn’t see that because she was distracted by her phone ringing on the car’s passenger seat.
The effects on the families of the victims are grievous and last a lifetime. A young student at University spoke of the devastating affect upon her of the death of her father in a RTA. Lives are turned upside down, are changed in an instant by a serious RTA, whether the person dies or is very seriously injured. The members of the Emergency Services are affected, and their recounting of some of what they have seen, was quite graphic. During the presentation it is essential to have trained personnel on hand to assist the children upset by what’s related or who have felt faint whilst listening and watching.
Safe Drive Stay Alive is hard-hitting and sobering. It is a justifiable means of bringing home to those who will soon be learning to drive or driving upon the busy roads of Surrey, that they should remember whenever they drive a car, they can kill or seriously injure themselves and other people. And the message also went out that if you, as a passenger, know or think the driver is under the influence, don’t get in the car. Or, if he or she is driving too fast tell them to slow down. All who came to Dorking Halls were able to take away a key-ring which had SAFE DRIVE STAY ALIVE on it which can remind them of their responsibilities.
The people of Surrey are most grateful to Mark Taylor the SFRS Education, Children and Young People Team Manager for all his work in organising these important events. Also, all who helped him and each of the sponsors deserve huge thanks.