It’s a car journey with a horrible ending that the pupils of Thornhill College will never forget.
On Friday year 13 and 14 pupils from the school got to experience a real life car accident - in one of the few car crash simulators in use across the UK.
The car was brought to the school as part of the ‘2 Young 2 Die’ campaign which is delivered by insurance broker Autoline Insurance Group, in association with the road safety charity, ‘Brake’.
Tracey Doherty who has worked in the field of road safety for more than 20 years revealed that before the girls get into the actual car, they are put through a series of hard hitting presentations.
“It works on the emotional side of things,” she said. “We explain that in a road accident, very quickly, they become a statistic, and it is their families who become the victims. In a crash it’s the people they love who will suffer the most, and that’s for the rest of their lives.”
She revealed that the scene in the simulator is taken from a real life car crash which happened in Wales, when a girl killed four people as a result of using her phone for seven seconds.
“Awareness is key,” she said, “and getting that message through that texting while driving is a complete no no. Evidence has shown that the part of your brain that controls driving is the same part of your brain that you use when you are texting. That’s why so many accidents happen as a result of texting.”
Brian Douglas, teacher at Thornhill College said they had received a very positive reaction from the girls who took part in the simulator.
“Quite a few of the pupils were taken aback by what they saw,” he said. “We did a show of hands and quite a lot of the girls have full driving licences or are taking lessons. Texting and speed while driving are the main issues for teenage girls while driving. We’re very grateful to Autoline for bringing the simulator into the school.”
The simulator is a specially modified Ford Focus, equipped with hi-tech equipment to simulate a real-life crash incident. Last year 74 people were killed on Northern Ireland’s roads, of which over 30% were aged under 25. Four of the fatalities were in the Derry & Strabane Council Area.
As corporate ambassadors for ‘Brake’ since 2013, Autoline has reached over 3,000 pupils with the campaign so far. The sessions are delivered free of charge and are available to schools and youth groups across Northern Ireland.
The newly introduced car crash simulator uses a high quality sound system, hydraulics, smoke and lights to recreate a true incident which resulted in multiple fatalities and a prison sentence for the 17-year old driver.
Suzanne Curtis from Autoline Insurance Group said: “In the last three years we’ve used the campaign to encourage young people to think about issues such as speed, alcohol, rural roads and drugs, and the irreversible consequences that a car crash has upon victims, family and friends.
For further information about how your school or organisation can participate in the ‘2 Young 2 Die’ programme please contact Suzanne Curtis at Autoline Insurance Group on 028 3025 9178.