Drive Safe - Save a Life Campaign launched

THE Hunts Post is starting the new year with a hard hitting plea to young motorists across Cambridgeshire, urging them to stay safe on the roads and to keep 2011 a fatality-free zone.

THE Hunts Post is starting the new year with a hard hitting plea to young motorists across Cambridgeshire, urging them to stay safe on the roads and to keep 2011 a fatality-free zone.

This week we – and our sister titles across the county – launch our Drive Safe – Save a Life Campaign with a message that is simple: make a new year resolution to stay safe behind the wheel.

Every day two people aged between 17 and 25 are killed on Britain’s roads.

In the last year 12 young motorists in Cambridgeshire have died following accidents.

But we want this number to be zero in 2011 by offering young drivers – who are statistically the most likely to end up in fatal collisions – and their parents advice and warnings about staying safe on the county’s roads.

Throughout the year we will be supporting education programmes, promoting safe-driving material, and highlighting the issues that can help prevent fatalities.

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The first round of advice and information is on Pages 2 and 3.

The campaign has been welcomed by police, MPs, schools, ambulance drivers and road accident prevention groups, who are backing our plea to prevent the tragic loss of young lives.

Driving and motorbike instructors have also applauded our campaign saying that, if it saves just one life, it will be worthwhile.

Young drivers run twice the risk of a fatal road crash compared to older, more experienced drivers and young men are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than girls, according to figures by road safety group RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

In Cambridgeshire in the last three years, 45 young drivers have died on the roads and more than 2,300 have been involved in collisions that have left them with injuries requiring medical attention. And 600 other young people were involved in an accident that left them with injuries, 203 of them classed as serious.

Cambridgeshire police casualty reduction officer Tony Barrios said he hoped the campaign would help prevent families suffering needless tragedy.

“Young drivers lack skill and, with young men in particular, they are too eager to show off to friends,” he said. “Campaigns like this are vital to educate young people on the importance of staying safe.”

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly added his support: “It is always heartbreaking to hear of young lives being lost, not least in circumstances that could have been avoided had more care been taken behind the wheel, so I fully support this important campaign.”

And Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, added: “Every driver has a responsibility not only to himself but also to his passengers, pedestrians and other motorists, and it is particularly important that newly-qualified and less experienced drivers take extra care on the roads.

“Careless driving costs lives and leaves serious injuries for life, so I hope all young drivers in Cambridgeshire will pay attention to this excellent campaign initiative.”

The East of England Ambulance Trust said most accidents involving young people were avoidable, and anything that could make younger drivers safer on the roads should be welcomed.

A spokesman said: “Our crews see far too many incidents, most of which are entirely avoidable. Such incidents can destroy lives and have a significant impact not only on those directly involved but also their loved ones.”

Kevin Clinton, head of accident prevention at campaigners RoSPA, urged young people to get as much driving practice as possible before taking to the roads, and called for parents to play their part in encouraging driver safety.

“Parents play a vital role in helping their children become safe drivers by driving safely themselves,” he said.

Kath Hartley from road safety campaigners Brake said: “One in four drivers who die on UK roads are under the age of 25 so Brake would strongly urge people to get behind this campaign to stop the appalling loss of young lives.”

Our campaign ties in with the United Nations decade of action plan, which is pushing for improved global road safety to reduce road fatalities, which it says is the number one worldwide cause of young deaths.

Drive safe - Pages 2 and 3.