Infrastructure Committee Chair joins Nendrum College Students for Autoline Initiative
Students at Nendrum College, Comber and the Chairperson of the Stormont Committee responsible for road safety have taken part in one of Northern Ireland’s most hi-tech road safety initiatives.
Organised by Autoline Insurance in association with the road safety charity ‘Brake’, William Humphrey MLA and Year 11 and 12 pupils took part in a workshop and car crash simulator.
The specially equipped Ford Focus ST is a key part of Autoline’s ‘Respect The Road’ campaign and has been adapted to include in-car screens, speakers, smoke machines and bespoke hydraulics. The vehicle is used to recreate a real life fatal crash incident that led to a 17-year old driver being sentenced to prison.
Commenting on the initiative, Mr Humphrey, Chairperson of the Infrastructure Committee, said:
“Road safety is a key priority for my Committee and we plan to bring a motion before the Assembly to help develop road safety policy. Part of that process involves talking to the next generation of drivers and those who work alongside them.
“The devastation caused by a fatal road accident is difficult to comprehend and we need to continually refresh and update our road safety campaigns.
“I’ve been impressed by the impact which today’s event has had on pupils and I’m delighted that Autoline is taking the safety message directly to young drivers with such a powerful and innovative approach.”
Over 5,000 young people have taken part in ‘Respect The Road’ workshops so far, exploring issues such as inexperience on rural roads, distractions caused by mobile phones and other devices, alcohol and drugs, as well as the irreversible consequences of speeding and careless driving.
In addition to the crash simulator, the programme includes a workshop presented by Autoline and Tracey Doherty, a former PSNI Traffic Branch Officer of over 30 years’ experience. The workshop consists of videos, statistics and group discussions. Tracey also shares some harrowing stories from her previous role when she was responsible for telling parents that their child had died in a traffic accident.
In spite of numerous road safety campaigns, 68 people died on Northern Ireland’s roads last year. Almost 30% of those who were killed were under 25-years old, and seven were from the Ards & North Down Borough Council area.
Evanna Kieran from Autoline Insurance Group said:
“As a local insurance broker we’re passionate about making our roads safer and helping younger drivers adopt good driving habits. We were particularly pleased that Mr Humphrey was able to join us. I hope that his experience of the simulator and discussions with pupils will provide useful feedback for his Committee as they consider road safety policy.
“The simulator is a very sobering and vivid experience, using hi-tech equipment to reinforce the issues we discuss and drive home the message that careless driving ruins lives.”
Daniel Jones, MVRUS teacher from Nendrum College added:
“We at Nendrum recognise the importance of preparing our young people to be responsible road users and really appreciate the opportunity Autoline has given students to think about these issues in such a fresh way.
“Younger drivers face particular pressures so it’s been very helpful for them to take part in a programme that’s been designed specifically for them. What they’ve experienced today will hopefully help shape a life-time approach to safe driving.”
In addition to the ‘Respect The Road’ campaign Autoline has also developed ‘ChilliDrive’, an innovative product that turns a smart phone into an in-car ‘mentor’. The app measures driving skills and rewards safer drivers with lower premiums.