Young people and bereaved families launch RSW11
London and South East Launch, City and Islington College, London
London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service and Driver’s Edge UK ran powerful demonstrations, including a crash scene reconstruction, with young people at City and Islington College, North London, and spoke about their work dealing with the aftermath of crashes. The launch was supported by national RSW sponsor QBE Insurance.
The launch was attended by Hollyoaks star Craig Vye who plays Ethan, following a storyline where he texts at the wheel causing a crash that results in serious injury. Craig joined the students in calling for young drivers to have a heart at the wheel.
The launch was also attended by Aaron Bufton, Hayley Porter and Craig Peters, all of whom have been bereaved by young driver crashes.
Aaron said:“The shock of two of my friends dying in such horrible circumstances has had a massive impact on me and on all our friends. It alters your thinking massively. I’d never take risks on the road. You can’t afford to take chances when you are driving because it could kill you or someone else.”
North East Launch, Sunderland College
In the North East, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, together with the Road Respect campaign, ran an awareness-raising demonstration in partnership with Sunderland College highlighting the dangers faced by young people on the region’s roads.
The launch was attended by young people from Sunderland College, and Violet Atkinson,
whose son Steven Atkinson was killed by a young driver. Together they called on drivers young and old to wake up to the consequences of driving irresponsibly. Violet said:
“No words can describe the grief our family has gone through since his death. There’s a piece of us missing and there’s no way to escape that. I don’t want another mother to experience the pain of seeing her child die. My son is gone. I will never see him again, and it will never get easier.”
North West Launch, St Wilfrids High School
Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, and regional RSW sponsor Goodmans Law worked in partnership to deliver a hard-hitting roadshow to young people from two local schools, including a crash extrication, highlighting the horrific aftermath of road crashes.
Mel Pope, Bryony Cook, Meriel D’Artrey and Haydn Cook, all bereaved by young driver
crashes, joined with pupils from the two schools in calling for drivers to pledge to drive slow, sober and secure.
Bryony said: “It’s hard to imagine how it feels to lose someone close in a crash before it happens to you. I can tell you it turned our world upside down. If you are a young driver, think about the consequences of taking risks at the wheel. Lots of young drivers just don’t think they’ll cause a crash, but driving dangerously can and does lead to terrible harm.”
West Midlands Launch, Birmingham Metropolitan College
West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, Birmingham City Council, the Territorial Army’s
crash response unit and 5-star driving academy ran awareness-raising activities with young people at the West Midlands launch event, sponsored by DBS Law. They worked to get the message across about the horror of road crashes and persuade young people to stay safe.
Lisa Newmarsh, who lost her brother Anthony aged 17 in a young driver crash, joined forces with the students of Sutton Campus to call on drivers to drive safely to prevent more needless deaths. Lisa said: “It never gets any easier; the void just gets bigger and bigger. Ant is in our thoughts every second of every day. Our hearts will never stop aching for the lovely young lad who was tragically taken from us. This Road Safety Week, I want to tell all young people to take care on the roads because your whole future – and other people’s – is in your hands.”
Yorkshire and Humber Launch, Halifax Playhouse
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service hosted the regional launch at one of their road
safety road shows, run in partnership with local authorities and emergency services, supported by regional RSW sponsor nkl automotive.
Young people from schools in the Calderdale area attended and were joined by Ian and Juliette Greenwood, Linda Adams and Elaine Noble, Tony Davison and Debbie Nicholson; local people bereaved by young driver crashes. Linda said: “It still feels like it happened yesterday. When I hear about a crash now my heart sinks - I think about what the families must be feeling and it crushes me. If people understood this pain, they wouldn’t take risks on the road. I’m pleading with young drivers, and drivers of all ages, to have a heart – think of the suffering you could cause by risk-taking, and commit to always driving slowly, safely and legally.”
East Anglia Launch, Carrow Fire Station
The East Anglia launch was hosted by Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Constabulary and
Norwich Fire Service, who ran a driver simulator exercise as part of their ongoing work to raise awareness among young drivers and passengers. The launch was supported by regional RSW sponsor FedEx.
A group of drama students from City College Norwich attended the event and experienced what it was like to be cut out of a car through the driver simulator. The students also performed a dramatic road safety play. Josh and Michelle Luetchford, and Chris and Nicole Taylor, two families bereaved by young driver crashes, supported the launch. Josh said: “Driving dangerously destroys lives – whether it’s speeding, driving on drink or drugs, or using a mobile at the wheel. I’m appealing to all young drivers to think about the consequences of their actions before they get behind the wheel, and make a commitment to never take risks that could end or ruin your life or someone else’s.”
South West Launch – Devizes Corn Exchange
The Safe Drive, Stay Alive partnership hosted the South West regional launch at one of
their hard-hitting road show events, attended by young people from nearby Devizes School and Matravers School. The event was supported by regional RSW sponsor Fleet Support Group.
Pupils appealed to young drivers to consider the consequences of taking risks at the wheel. They were joined by Simon Johnstone, who was injured as a young driver, together with Clare Brixey, and Claire and Dave Barnett, who were bereaved by young driver crashes. Clare said: “Too many young people think taking risks on roads is exciting. I’m here to tell them the reality: it could kill or permanently injure you, or one of your mates, or another innocent person. I’m urging young drivers – and drivers of all ages – to ask themselves how they would feel if they caused someone’s death or serious injury, if they ruined someone’s life or their own, because of taking a chance, or for a quick thrill.”
Wales launch – Coleg Gwent
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, South Wales Police and Blaenau Gwent County
Borough Council worked with young people from Coleg Gwent to help them put on their own road safety roadshow for their peers. The launch was supported by regional RSW sponsor Allied Bakeries.
The launch was supported by Sue Hamlin and David Pomeroy, Jonno Jones, Heather Rowlands and Jason Jones, all of whom have been bereaved in young driver crashes. David said: “If you drive you are entrusted with the lives of your passengers and every other road user you come into contact with. It’s a responsibility you must take seriously. That’s why I am asking young drivers – and drivers of all ages – across Wales to step up and pledge to drive safely, to prevent more needless casualties on our roads.”
Northern Ireland Launch – Dromore High School
The Northern Ireland launch was hosted by Banbridge District Policing Partnership, as
part of their ongoing work to raise awareness among young passengers and drivers, at an event supported by regional RSW sponsor Sainsbury's car insurance. Young people from Dromore High School took part in interactive activities such as driving games to highlight the dangers of distractions at the wheel.
The young people of Dromore High School teamed up with Josie McDonald, who has suffered two bereavements in two young driver crashes. They called for drivers to ‘have a heart’ behind the wheel and drive with compassion for other road users. Josie said: “Both Jon and Rossa died because of young drivers who took selfish risks on the road. My message to young drivers is to think of the consequences of taking deadly risks like speeding and drink-driving. If you take stupid risks like these you are going to end up killing yourself or someone else. It’s your family, or the victim’s family, who will have to pick up the pieces.”
Huge thanks to all our launch partners, hosts, and volunteers for helping to get vital road safety messages out there.