Friday, 20 May 2011

Wasted Lives programme transforms young drivers attitudes, say students

Photo: Wasted Lives Young Driver Programme
A generation of Lancashire students say a hard-hitting road safety course has transformed the way they think about driving, making them safer behind the wheel.

The Wasted Lives Young Driver Programme has now reached over 13,000 students since being launched in September 2008 to help cut the tragic toll of death and injury among young drivers.

It encourages them to examine the attitudes that cause risky driving and to confront the potential consequences of making the wrong decision.

Nearly three quarters of those who respond to a survey three months after taking the course say they now take fewer risks.

"The Wasted Lives course has become part of growing up for more and more students in Lancashire since it was launched three years ago," notes Steve Whitehouse, manager of the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety for Lancashire County Council.

"The careful research that went into creating it means Wasted Lives is very effective at triggering emotions such as guilt and regret, helping young people realise the devastating consequences of making the wrong decision.

"It's satisfying that students tell us the programme has had a real impact on the decisions they make while driving, which we hope will stick with them for life."

Research shows that drivers are most at risk of being involved in a car crash or breaking the speed limit between the ages of 17-21. Many are overconfident of their driving abilities, making them more likely to take risks.

Wasted Lives sees students work in small groups with a facilitator to discuss, share and reflect on their experiences of driving and the issues – such as peer pressure and images in the media – which influence their behaviour.

Topics covered include inappropriate speed, use of seatbelts, drink and drug driving and the consequences of taking risks.

Delivery of the course is shared between Lancashire County Council, whose road safety advisors have been instrumental in taking the course to schools and colleges, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. LFRS began delivering the course last year – helping the safe driving message reach a further 3,000 young people.

Wasted Lives has won two awards in 2009, being named North West Road Safety Project of the Year and receiving an accolade from the Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Awards.

The numbers of people killed and seriously injured on Lancashire's Roads has fallen from 1,024 in 2005 to 668 in 2010.

• Schools, colleges, community groups and training providers can find out more about the free one-day course by contacting 01772 534531, visit www.wastedlives.co.uk, or email infoATwastedlives.co.uk.

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