High school students from Ealing and Hounslow were given hard-hitting lessons about driving at the Safe Drive Stay Alive roadshow last week.
More than 2700 students from 21 schools visited Questors Theatre in Ealing to hear shocking first-hand accounts from emergency workers, a crash victim and bereaved family members, including a father whose daughter was killed when a car mounted the pavement she was walking along.
One paramedic recounted a horrific scene where a teenage boy’s dangerous driving resulted in the death of his 16 year-old girlfriend.
She told the crowd: “It only takes one moment, one bad decision to change a lifetime. The only thing that boys should be breaking is your heart – not your neck.”
Teenage crash victim, Nick Bennett, stunned the students when he told how his impatience on the road and refusal to wear a seatbelt resulted in a head-on collision with a truck.
Nick, then 17, wanted to be a professional footballer, but the crash – which very nearly cost his life – left him in a wheelchair with serious brain injuries. He also had to have his left leg removed from the knee down.
He said: “You’ve got to make the right choices on the road. Please don’t think that you can drive dangerously without suffering the consequences. Take a look at the people sitting around you. They’re your friends and they will probably be the ones to tell you to drive faster. But ask yourself one question, will those friends still come and visit you when you’re stuck in a wheelchair? Mine don’t. It’s better to be 10 minutes late in this world than 10 minutes early in the next.”
Cabinet member for environment and transport, Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, said: “In their first two years of driving, one in five teens will be involved a car crash. This alarming statistic is why the Safe Drive Stay Alive initiative is so important and why it is essential for young people to understand that a badly driven car is a lethal weapon.
“The real-life accounts were very harrowing, but I hope the messages stay with the students to ensure they make the right decisions – whether behind the wheel or as a passenger – so they don’t end up as a statistic.”
The Safe Drive Stay Alive initiative is run is led by Ealing and Hounslow councils in partnership with the emergency services.