Police and Belfast council unveil road crash simulator

A total of 66 have died on Northern roads this year after two young men were killed in Tyrone

The blacked-out car can seat  four people watching TV monitors on which different scenarios are played out

The blacked-out car can seat four people watching TV monitors on which different scenarios are played out

 

A crash simulator to convey to young road users how “speed kills” and how drivers are not “invincible” is being unveiled on Monday by the PSNI and Belfast City Council.

It comes after a weekend in which two young men were killed in a crash in Co Tyrone on the road between Omagh and Ballygawley shortly after 8am on Saturday. They were named locally as Maurice McCloughan and Killian Doherty, who were both local GAA players.

Doherty’s club Drumquin GAA said it had suffered a “devastating loss” with his passing. McCloughin’s club Fintona Pearses said they were “all saddened by the tragic news”.

Local SDLP Assembly member Daniel McCrossan said “two families, an entire community were deeply devastated by the reality of these people losing their lives by what is, and continues to be, an extremely dangerous road”.

As police investigate the crash they have made no comment about how or why it happened or made any suggestion about driver fault.

However, police this Christmas are trying to impress on drivers, particularly young drivers, of the need for care and caution on the roads.

Police and Belfast City Council have transformed a Honda Civic-type car at a cost of more than £30,000 to create the experience of being involved in a car crash. Criminal assets recovery paid for the car and simulator.

The blacked-out car can seat four people watching TV monitors on which different scenarios are played out. They range in duration from three to 11 minutes, and detail how fatal incidents can happen through speeding, distraction, texting, and driving with drink and/or drugs.

Non-toxic fumes

Glenn Thomas

The simulator is mainly aimed at 16- to 19-year-olds, and will be brought around schools and youth and church groups.

Insp Rosemary Leech, of the PSNI’s road-policing unit, said the simulator was designed to explain to young people in particular that they were not invincible. She pointed out that more than a quarter of all people killed or seriously injured in 2015 were aged 16-24.

“I think it is a really useful tool. It provides a hook to get young people to come and engage with you. They love the car, they love the wheels, they love the way it is all jazzed up, their curiosity is piqued, they want to come and look at it. Once they do that then you have them, then you can start talking to them.

Responsible drivers

Susan Russam, vice-chairwoman of the Belfast Police and Community Safety Partnership, hopes the simulator will show young people “that it does not make you a bigger person to be able to put your foot on the accelerator; it actually makes you a bigger person to be able to keep within the speed limit”.

Constable John Wilson, who operates the simulator, said over his policing career he had dealt with car fatalities. In conveying bad news to families he had seen what it was like for “somebody’s life to fall apart”.

Speaking before Saturday’s accident in Co Tyrone, he added: “This is just one instrument to get our message out there. The fact is that this year 64 people got dressed to go out to do whatever they wanted to do, whether to work or to play, and they did not come home again. That is the sad reality.”