Safety course will save lives

Parents of tragic accident victim back teenage driving scheme A NEW training centre to improve the quality of driving in Cambridgeshire has been launched with the support of a couple whose daughter died after being hit by a speeding driver. Alconbury Dr

Parents of tragic accident victim back teenage driving scheme

A NEW training centre to improve the quality of driving in Cambridgeshire has been launched with the support of a couple whose daughter died after being hit by a speeding driver.

Alconbury Driving Centre aims to teach teenagers advanced driving skills before they are old enough to sit their driving test.

The centre has a mile-long, six lane motorway on a former American runway on which to test driver's skills in a skid car as well as a driving zone to help teach teenagers.


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Terry Turner, chief executive of the centre, said: "It is a regrettable fact too many young people are killed on the country's roads due to inexperience and lack of control skills.

"Alconbury Driving Centre offers young people the opportunity to learn and practise those skills in a challenging, yet safe environment."

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The centre is being supported by Kevin and Melaine Gonzales, parents of 18-year-old Amy Gonzales. Amy died after she and her boyfriend, Paul Ray, were hit by a speeding driver in St Neots High Street on Christmas morning 2003.

She fought for her life for four weeks but was too weak from her injuries to fight any longer. Paul suffered serious leg injuries but was later discharged from hospital.

Mr Gonzales said: "Our family was destroyed at 1am on Christmas morning because a 22-year-old drunken driver was speeding. We are here today to support the work of the Alconbury Driving Centre as we hope it will create a generation of safer drivers and prove a good investment for the future.

"Any scheme that can prevent another family going through what we have been through is worth supporting. Losing Amy is something we will never get over, it's a life sentence to us."

He added: "There is a culture of boy racers on the roads and if it continues more people will be killed. I've always said if it wasn't Amy it would have been someone else."

A schools programme has already been running at the centre and has seen 90 teenagers every week from across Cambridgeshire benefit from the tuition of the centres' instructors.

The centre is hoping to get more schools to take part and has halved the price of its schools programme.

Chief instructor Paul Staple said: "There is no doubt the skills we teach give young drivers the ability to handle life-threatening situations on the roads. Our aim is to make our students better than average drivers from the day they pass their test."

The Cambridgeshire Police Shrievalty Trust subsidises the schools programme. Its chairman Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey said: "Teaching young people to drive better saves lives. The grounding we can give young people at the centre enables them to not only pass their driving test more quickly but drive with greater competence and judgement on public roads."

The centre's skid car, which school pupils are not allowed to use, will support the schools programme, as money raised from new skid courses supports the young driver schemes.

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