Young drivers get a crash course in road safety

A 'casualty' in a crashed car awaits help from the fire brigade at the road safety event.
A 'casualty' in a crashed car awaits help from the fire brigade at the road safety event.

Students from a training centre got up to speed with road safety issues to kick-start a national week-long campaign aimed at reducing deaths and injuries on our roads.

Young drivers and their passengers being distracted on the road is the focus of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) Road Safety Week which runs from June 8-14.

Firefighters take control at the road safety event.

Firefighters take control at the road safety event.

Cleveland Fire Brigade is backing the (CFOA) campaign and has the support of Cleveland Police and local authority road safety teams to help get across key safety messages to young drivers.

More than one hundred 17-21 year-olds at Billingham’s NETA Apprentice Training Centre were given advice and tips during a series of interactive sessions that saw firefighters carry out a multi-vehicle crash scene rescue scenario involving students from both the Billingham and Portrack NETA training centres.

Road collisions are still the leading cause of death for young adults between 15 and 19 and drivers are four times more likely to have a crash if they are using a mobile phone at the wheel.

Ian Hayton, chief fire officer with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Once again we are focusing on the issue of young driver distraction because of the high fatality rate among young drivers.

We are focusing on the issue of young driver distraction because of the high fatality rate among young drivers.

Ian Hayton, chief fire officer

“Young people are so used to multi-tasking such as watching TV while texting and using the internet, they might not even anticipate the dangers of doing so whilst behind the wheel.

The campaign provides an opportunity to work together with all of the other relevant key agencies and raise awareness of the risks on the roads and save young people’s lives.”

Distracted driving activities include things like using a mobile phone, texting and even eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction.

Andrew Bright, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Learn & Live co-ordinator, added: “The brigade attends dozens of road traffic incidents every year and our officers witness the trauma first-hand that casualties go through which often could have been avoided if more attention to the driving task had been given. Driving requires a 100% focus and concentration from a driver whether young, old, inexperienced or experienced.

Sergeant  Harry Simpson from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit and Watch Manager Martin Petrie from Cleveland Fire Brigade.

Sergeant Harry Simpson from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit and Watch Manager Martin Petrie from Cleveland Fire Brigade.

“With the advance in modern technology it’s hugely important that we remind people about the dangers that devices such as mobile phones can cause and during CFOA Road Safety Week we’ll be doing our utmost, along with our partner organisations, to get across our vital messages to save lives.

“Passengers can also be a big source of distraction and have an important role to play in helping the driver to be able to concentrate on just driving, so the campaign will also be targeting messages about this too.”

NETA’s Chief Executive Frank Ramsay said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the emergency services and other providers to promote key messages on road safety. We’re sure that, with the range of equipment and simulators available for young people to experience, the day will be both enjoyable and informative.”

“Make the Pledge” – we are encouraging people to make a difference to road safety and sign up to the Brake Road Safety charity Pledge by visiting http://www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/pledge-road-safety/

Students look on during the event at the NETA Apprentice Training Centre in Billingham.

Students look on during the event at the NETA Apprentice Training Centre in Billingham.