Hard-hitting message for young drivers

STUDENTS and school pupils from across Angus have been targeted this week as part of a hard-hitting campaign aimed at encouraging safer driving.

Run jointly by Tayside’s emergency services, private sector organisations and voluntary groups, the annual Safe Drive Stay Alive theatre production will use reconstructions and real life testimony to engage with hundreds of young people in the region over the next two weeks with performances starting this week in Forfar’s Reid Hall.

Its intention is to offer an insight into the realities of a fatal road collision and attempts to change attitudes towards safe driver and passenger behaviour. Safe Drive Stay Alive’s overall aim is to give the audience a true sense of their own mortality and clearly illustrate the real dangers that arise when road safety is neglected.

Although casualty numbers are reducing, young drivers and their passengers remain a vulnerable group when it comes to crashes, injuries and fatalities across Scotland.

Between April 2010 and March 2011, 18 people were killed and 200 were injured on Tayside roads and while not all collisions involved young drivers, many included young people in the 17 to 25 age group. Factors in young driver crashes include inexperience, lack of awareness, distraction and, at times, peer pressure and over confidence.

The attitude-challenging stage show calls upon the experiences of emergency personnel and individuals who are affected by the results of road traffic crashes, who talk about the long lasting effects on their lives.

Tayside Police Assistant Chief Constable Angela Wilson said the campaign is an “effective and impactive” way to educate young people to become careful and safe drivers.

She said: “Young drivers are inexperienced and can only become good drivers by practicing and improving their skills. Too often the emergency services witness at first hand the tragic end result of young drivers taking risks, which they may not fully appreciate, including such simple things as failing to wear a seat belt.

“Injuries sustained in a collision may affect people for the rest of their lives and the consequences of causing a fatality are simply horrendous to all involved.”

Chief Fire Officer Dave Boyle also said the campaign tackles young people’s lack of awareness and the responsibility that goes with driving.

He said: “Too many young people, especially young men, think they have learned to drive long before reaching the age of 17 by playing simulated computer driving games. When they crash their car spectacularly on screen and the game is over all they have to do is press the restart button to enjoy the thrills again. Real life is not like that. Too many young people realise too late that there is no restart button in real life. This results in death and serious injury to those involved and misery and memories to those that are left behind.”