Mock traffic incident in Belfast part of road safety campaign

800 young people invited to roadshow as figures show drivers under 25 more at risk

A mock traffic incident was being staged in Belfast city centre on Wednesday as part of a new hard-hitting road safety campaign.

It is hoped the reconstruction, targeted at young people, will help hammer home the harsh reality of careless driving.

PSNI Supt Gerry Murray, head of road policing, said: "I have no doubt that those who attend the roadshow are shocked, perhaps even horrified by what they see. We make no apology for that.

“I hope that after seeing the roadshow they realise that they are not indestructible; that they are more vulnerable on the roads and that they must respect the roads and other road users.”

More than 800 young people from 10 schools and colleges across Belfast have been invited to watch the roadshow after new figures revealed drivers under the age of 25 were more at risk of being killed or injured.

Of the 54 people to die on Northern Ireland’s roads so far this year, seven were drivers aged under 25. A further two passengers aged between 16 and 24 were also killed.

John McPoland from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said crews were called to almost 5,000 crashes every year.

Inexperienced drivers

He said: “Too many involve young people and inexperienced drivers and tragically some of these young people are no longer with their families today.”

The event, taking place over Wednesday and Thursday, has been organised by Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) in partnership with the emergency services.

The roadshow, sponsored by AXA Insurance, shows the devastation caused by careless driving in a reconstruction in the grounds of City Hall.

Also attending are PSNI, NI Fire & Rescue, and Ambulance Service staff who will be involved in the emergency rescue operation of the reconstruction.

Cllr Matt Garrett, chair of the Belfast PCSP said: “This roadshow has been organised to try to educate young people - the drivers of tomorrow - on the dangers of the road, and to make them more aware of the perils of careless driving, speeding or so-called ‘joyriding’.

‘Extremely hard-hitting’

“The roadshow is extremely hard-hitting, but I hope the young people will go away with something to think about and that this event will positively influence teenage drivers who are about to embark on their motoring journey.”

The story is told from the points of view of a police officer, a paramedic, a fire officer, an A&E consultant and a representative of a victim support group.

Attendees will also hear the real-life story of a young woman who was paralysed in a road traffic incident. The narrative is interspersed with music, video clips and television and cinema advertisements.

Natalie Thompson, AXA Direct Boucher Road said: "AXA is Northern Ireland's largest motor insurer, and are proud sponsors of the PSNI roadsafe roadshows since 2006. We fully support the work the PSNI are doing to educate young people before they're ready to drive on our roads."

Policing Board vice-chair Debbie Watters said: "We can all learn lessons on road safety, even those of who have been driving for years, as it only takes one slip of concentration to end up in a collision.

“It is important for young people to be aware of dangers as they start out driving so that they don’t end up being another tragic statistic.”