EMERGENCY services across Greater Manchester, including Salford Royal Hospital, have joined together with the Safe Drive Stay Alive initiative to teach road safety to over 9,500 college students.
The 90-minute performances were carried out over the last two and a half weeks and are aimed at reducing the number of young driver-related deaths and injuries on the county’s roads.
Between 2007 and 2016, there have been 164 deaths and a further 1,564 people seriously injured in collisions involving young drivers – those aged between 17 and 25 – in Greater Manchester alone.
Students heard from emergency service and hospital staff, surviving victims of serious road traffic incidents and family members speaking of their own experiences of serious road incidents and coping with the consequences and wider effects.
One victim of a road traffic accident, Brooke Trotter, spoke directly to the students about his experiences suffering a life-changing brain injury after being knocked down by a car in Manchester.
The Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign is in its fourth year and receives its funding from the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership.
Graham Jones, Chair of the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership, explained: “[We] continue to fund the award-winning Safe Drive Stay Alive project which targets young drivers and their passengers who remain disproportionately represented in fatal road collisions. This project is thought-provoking and engages directly with young people in considering the consequences of taking risk. It aims to positively influence their attitude and behaviour.”
This year’s performances also heavily focused on the use of mobile phones behind the wheel, with research showing young drivers are less likely to consider using a mobile phone whilst driving as a dangerous distraction.
Through a mixture of live speakers and films, the campaign sought to reinforce the impacts using a mobile phone, or any other form of careless driving, could have on themselves and others.
In Greater Manchester alone, almost 100 drivers aged 17 to 25 were issued with fixed penalties between the beginning of March and the end of September this year when harsher sentences for using mobile phones while driving were introduced.
Local heads of emergency services have been quick to support the initiative, as they hope it will have a positive impact in reducing the number of young driver-related casualties on the roads of Greater Manchester.
Chief Superintendent John O’Hare, of Greater Manchester Police, said in a statement: “Collisions are often caused by drivers being distracted for various reasons such as mobile phones, other passengers or loud music. These factors are particularly prevalent with young people.
“GMP is keen to educate the public on the importance of road safety as much as possible, which is why we are involved in Safe Drive Stay Alive.”
David Ratcliffe, North West Ambulance Service’s Medical Director added: “Young people can often drive with an increased confidence and invincibility, but as they hear the real life experiences, it will hopefully make them realise the benefits of safe driving and that they have a responsibility as both a driver and a passenger to help prevent more tragedy on our roads.”
Matt Bailey-Smith, an Inspector with Greater Manchester Police’s Serious Collisions Investigations Unit, spoke back in 2014 about the benefits of the campaign, something that has continued for the past three years of performances: