A lesson in saving lives – helping Hartpury students to make our roads a safer place

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Hartpury students will take a break from their studies next week to learn an even more important lesson – one that could save lives.

The college, alongside the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership and the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl, is hosting a day dedicated to helping students to stay safe on our roads and encouraging respect for all road users.

The ‘Drive for Life – Safe and Social Driving’ day will be held on Thursday, October 2nd at Hartpury College with around 3000 students taking part in activities and educational workshops.

They will witness a hard-hitting road traffic collision (RTC) scene and investigation and see first-hand the actions of the emergency services and the impact on them, as well as the people involved in the collision.

They will also experience the ‘ripple effect’ as the Family Liaison Officer breaks the news to the victim’s family and hear the real-life stories of two mothers who have lost a child in an RTC.

Hartpury Principal, Russell Marchant, said: “Many of our students are either new drivers or will be starting to learn to drive soon. With young drivers the most likely to be involved in an RTC, this ‘Drive for Life’ day is a great way to boost our students’ skills, knowledge and awareness, helping them to stay safe on the county’s roads and drive responsibly and respectfully.

“The event was such a success last year that we were keen to make it happen again. The students love the interactive nature of the event; it is fun as well as delivering an incredibly important and powerful message.

“Being confronted with a crash scene and talking to families who have lost loved ones can be tough but it’s the most effective way to help students understand the consequences of making poor driving choices.”

All students will be able to ‘get behind the wheel’ on a driving simulator that will enable them to experience different braking distances and sit on a seatbelt sled, where they will feel the impact of hitting a vehicle at seven miles per hour.

The ‘Killucar’ will also be on site, which aims to recreate some of the problems that can make a second-hand car a danger to road users. Students will be asked to identify 10 defects on the car.

They will also learn about how different types of music and other distractions can affect their driving and wear ‘beer goggles’ that mimic the effects of alcohol on their driving performance.

Gloucestershire County Council Cabinet member for road safety, Will Windsor Clive, said: “Driving, whether we like it or not, is part of life and with it comes great responsibility. We want young drivers to have the best possible start so that driving becomes a task that can be accomplished without any threat to themselves or any other road users.

The consequences when things go wrong can be devastating, and one thing that we all know is that you can’t turn the clock back, so let us start with safety as our focus. This is why we are delighted to be working with the staff and students at Hartpury college to help guide our drivers of the future to be as successful and responsible as possible.”

Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl, said: “Safe and Social driving may not sound very sexy but it is something I care deeply about, that’s why I made it one of the priorities of my police and crime plan.

“All too often, people’s personalities seem to change when they get behind a wheel and they lose all respect for others - sometimes with very serious consequences.

“I speak from personal experience as both my children were involved in crashes which thankfully they survived but could easily have been much worse. The lessons the Hartpury students will learn will help keep them and their friends safe from harm.”

A Police Inspector will talk to students about ‘Consequences of the Law’ and a ‘Fail to Look’ workshop will focus on identifying potential hazards and raising awareness of other road users, particularly cyclists and motorcyclists. The Fire Service will lead a workshop on the impact of a collision on the Emergency Services and a number of their vehicles will be on site.

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Stewart Edgar, said: “Having been in my job for many years, I’ve seen some of the heartache and tragedies risky behaviour and misjudged decision-making can result in. Nobody means to harm or hurt anybody while driving and this day aims to give students the tools to ensure it does not happen to them or their friends.”

A number of outside organisations will also support the day, including road safety charity ‘BRAKE’, the Institute of Advanced Motoring, the AA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Young Farmers.

You can watch the video of last year’s ‘Drive for Life’ event at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xt9U-Rqsgs

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