Hundreds of teenagers have been shown the potentially deadly consequences of careless driving at a special road safety event in Larne.
The hard-hitting initiative, coordinated by the Rotary Club of Larne and supported by agencies such as police, fire and ambulance services, featured shocking live-action crash scenarios.
The organisers were pushing for greater awareness of road safety, after official PSNI figures revealed a sharp rise in the number of young people killed on Northern Ireland’s roads this year.
Sixth form pupils from the borough’s three post-primary schools attended the event at Larne Leisure Centre on Friday, where they watched a road safety play sponsored by the DoE, showing the aftermath of a fatal road traffic accident.
The pupils then moved outside, where a mock-up crash had been set up between a motorcycle and a car.
With the use of the outside PA system, pupils heard a simulated 999 call informing the emergency services of the collision.
The police were first to arrive, closely following by the fire and ambulance services.
With the help of some willing volunteers, the young man driving the car was breathalysed, while the motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two actors from Larne Drama Group played the part of the devastated parents of the young motorcyclist. To underline the point, EW Ramsey Funeral Directors arrived with a hearse and an empty coffin.
Meanwhile, the passenger of the car sustained injuries and had to be cut from the vehicle by a team of firefighters, before being rushed to hospital.
Following the crash mock-up, the pupils went back into the main hall, where members of the emergency services shared their harrowing first-hand experiences of dealing with road collisions.
PSNI Road Education Officer Syndey Henry told the Larne Times: “This multi-agency event is being carried out as part of Road Safety Week.
“Young people between the ages of 16-24 make up the vast majority of fatalities on our roads, and our aim here today is to get across to these pupils the potential consequences of poor driving behaviour.
“Being distracted behind the wheel, even for just a few seconds, can result in families being plunged into devastation.
“I would ask young drivers to be aware of the main causes of road traffic collisions, the so-called ‘Fatal Four’: driving too fast for the conditions, not wearing a seat belt, drink driving and using a handheld mobile phone.”
President of the Rotary Club of Larne, Gordon Cowie added: “This programme we are running here today is called ‘Impact’.
“But it is not the impact of the collision we are focusing on, it is the impact a crash can have on people’s lives.
“If we as a club can save even one of the kids here today, we reckon we have done an excellent job,” Mr Cowie concluded.