Crash survivor reinforces safety messages for young drivers

A young woman who sustained life-changing injuries in a road traffic collision will share her experience with young Edinburgh motorists at a multi-agency road safety education event this week. 

Crash survivor Laura Torrance with a 20mph sign at Streets Ahead Edinburgh Young Drivers 2016

The Streets Ahead Edinburgh Young Drivers event is back at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange for a sixth year (3-6 October), hosted by Forth 1 DJ Grant Thomson.

Supported by Digby Brown Solicitors, the popular event is jointly run by all partners in Streets Ahead Edinburgh, namely City of Edinburgh Council, Police Scotland, NHS Lothian, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Transport Scotland, Bear and Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership. 

Guest speaker Laura Torrance has been a wheelchair user since 1999 when she was seriously injured in a car accident at the age of 16. She works as a peer support advisor with charity Spinal Injuries Scotland.

As well as meeting Laura, sixth-year pupils attending the four-day event will have the opportunity to try out a range of fun, interactive activities highlighting the dangers of driving, such as drunk goggles, a seatbelt slide and a breathalyser. 

The wreckage of a crashed car and a hard-hitting play called Friends Disunited performed by Baldy Bane Theatre Company will also help drive home safety messages.

Councillor Adam McVey, Transport Vice Convener, said: "There's no doubt it's an exciting time in a young person's life when they first get behind the wheel as a newly qualified driver. However the statistics on road casualties and deaths among young people make for very sobering reading. 

"Our Young Drivers events drive home some very hard-hitting messages in a fun and engaging way. Pupils and teachers who have attended in previous years have found the sessions extremely helpful and thought-provoking and I'm sure those coming along this year will get a lot out of it too. 

"The Council and our Streets Ahead partners are committed to our shared Vision Zero for the Capital where all road users are safe from the risk of being killed or seriously injured on our roads. These powerful Young Drivers events are an invaluable tool to help us achieve this goal."

Laura Torrance, 33, said: "This is the prime age to target, especially as I was their age when I had my accident. We want to get it through to them that this is not a joke - this is serious stuff, this is your life we're talking about. Driving can be really fun - I still enjoy driving myself - but it's really important to make sure you drive safely and wear your seatbelt."

Inspector David Hynd of Police Scotland's Road Policing Unit said: "Reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads is a priority, not only in Edinburgh, but across the country and we are delighted to support this very useful and worthwhile event.

"The sixth years will receive a range of road safety advice and information that will help them make positive decisions and consider their own safety and the safety of others while behind the wheel.

"The input from Laura Torrance will also provide those in attendance with a valuable insight into the devastating impact serious road collisions can have.

"Education is essential in reducing the number of young drivers involved in road collisions and the Streets Ahead event is an excellent example of various agencies come together to achieve this goal."

Gordon Dalyell, Partner in Digby Brown's Edinburgh office and Head of the firm's Network Department, said: "There are too many avoidable road traffic crashes in and around Edinburgh and the sad reality is many of them involve young drivers. Digby Brown are very proud to be supporting Edinburgh Young Drivers for a fourth year, with approximately ten thousand young adults having passed through the doors of the event when doors close this year. 

"The reality is, it will have prevented many incidents and probably, more than likely, saved lives. Our responsibility to help make our roads safer for everyone is one we take seriously."

Kenneth Rogers of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “Road collisions are the biggest cause of death for young people aged between 15 and 19. 

"This is why the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is keen to raise awareness of the dangers and help save lives. We hope this multi-agency approach to encourage safe and responsible driver behaviour, and showing the possible consequences of irresponsible driving gets the message across."

The facts (from Road Safety Scotland):

- Road traffic is the biggest killer of young people in Scotland, with almost three quarters of accidental deaths involving people aged 15 - 25 years occurring on the roads.
- An average of 54 accidents a week in Scotland involve a young driver aged between 17 and 25.
- They account for ten per cent of all licence holders, yet young drivers are involved in 20 per cent of accidents.
- Sadly, those accidents lead to an average of one death and more than 70 people injured every week.

Check out Edinburgh Young Drivers on Twitter @edinyoungdriver and follow the hashtag #edinyd.

Feedback from previous Young Drivers events

"It really made me stop and think about what can happen; and how it's not just your life that can be ruined but how it affects your whole family too."  (Sixth year pupil, Craigmount High School)

"Pupils and staff found all events thought-provoking, while the interactive elements allowed for fun but at the same time a serious message was being given." (Staff member, Queensferry Community High School)

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