Thousands of Bay of Plenty teenagers will hear life-changing stories first-hand from the victims of dangerous driving in a bid to reduce the number of young driving-related deaths.
The Blue Light Safe Driver Expo begins Tuesday aiming to make teenagers aware of the implications of actions such as driving drunk, driving while texting, or driving stoned.
Expo speakers will be telling how drink drivers impacted their lives. Photo by Bruce Barnard.
About 3000 Year 11 students from across the Western Bay will hear from guest speakers whose own lives have been dramatically affected through bad driving decisions.
This includes a former potential Olympian, whose aspirations were destroyed when he was hit by a drunk driver, and a mother whose two children were killed in a crash where speed was a factor.
Wendy Nicholls is the operations manager for the Te Aranui Youth Trust, which is running the event. She hopes the expo will empower inexperienced drivers to be responsible for their own actions, and help them steer away from poor driving decisions.
Since the annual expo began in 2009, the number of young people dying on the road has reduced. Police statistics show five years ago teenagers made up 27 per cent of all alcohol-related prosecutions, while in 2013 they made up 15.5 per cent.
“The drink driving message is clear, but we also want to make sure youngsters know of other driving hazards; and it’s not just the drivers.
“We want these kids to leave the expo with an attitude of making sure their relatives, friends and colleagues don’t drive dangerously either,” says Wendy.
Students will also hear from emergency services through interactive displays, and for the first time a trauma surgeon from Tauranga Hospital will reveal graphic details relating to treating crash victims.
Everyone is encouraged to attend the free community open night on Wednesday, June 4, at 6.45pm at Classic Flyers.
Western Bay of Plenty road policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion says the expo has the potential to change the behavior of one of the most as-risk age groups on the road.
“I urge not just young drivers but their relatives and friends to come along on to the community night. It could be life-saving.” The expo is assisted financially by TECT.