Bereaved and injured people in South West call for action on life-shattering young driver crashes at launch of Road Safety Week
As survey reveals extent of deadly risk taking among region’s young drivers
PRESS RELEASE from Brake, the road safety charity
Embargoed until: 00.01 hrs, Tuesday 22 November 2011
Families from the South West who have lost loved ones or suffered life-changing injuries in devastating young driver crashes are calling for action at the launch of Road Safety Week, run by the charity Brake.
Their calls come as a survey of 670 young people in the region by Brake and QBE Insurance, published today (22 Nov), shows more than half (52%) fear for their lives at times when a passenger with a young driver and nearly six in 10 (57%) have been endangered by risk-taking peers speeding or drink or drug driving (see below). The vast majority would support a tougher regime for novice drivers: 83% are in favour of at least one type of licence restriction, such as a zero-tolerance alcohol limit or tougher penalties .
Young people, victims of young driver crashes and emergency services are launching Road Safety Week through demonstrations showing the horror of road crashes, including at a Wiltshire event (see below) supported by regional sponsor Fleet Support Group. They are speaking out about the fact that more young people die from preventable, violent crashes than from any other cause , and urging young drivers – and drivers of all ages – in the South West to have a heart at the wheel by making a pledge to drive safely.
Media are invited to a photo/filming/interview opportunity at a Safe Drive Stay Alive event organised by Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service and partners:
Tuesday 22 November 2011, The Corn Exchange, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 1BN
FILMING OPP, from 10.15am: Safe Drive Stay Alive presentation for local students on dangers they face as passengers and new drivers, with real life stories on stage told by road crash victims
PHOTOS, 11.30am: bereaved and seriously injured volunteers (see below); 11 young people, representing the number of young people killed or seriously injured on South West roads every week, in front of a crashed car, gathered around a banner calling on drivers to ‘Have a heart’
INTERVIEWS, 11.30am: bereaved mums Clare Brixey and Claire Barnett and seriously injured young driver Simon Johnstone; Brake spokesperson Martin Howard; Steve Jugg, watch manager, Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service; Steve Colwill, road traffic officer, Wiltshire Constabulary; James Mapstone, voluntary response doctor, SWIFT Medics
Casualty statistics revealed by Brake today show that every nine days a young person is killed on the South West’s roads, leaving behind devastated family and friends. Every 16 hours, a young person suffers a serious injury on the region’s roads, in many cases life-changing injuries such as brain damage, paralysis or limb loss . Read more on road casualties among young people.
Young drivers are involved in a disproportionately high number of crashes that kill and injure people of all ages. Nationwide, young drivers (age 17-24) are involved in crashes that result in one in four road deaths and serious injuries (24%) – 17 deaths and serious injuries every day  – despite only making up one in eight (12%) licence holders .
Brake is demanding government action to tackle these needless casualties, highlighting evidence that ‘graduated driver licensing’, including a minimum learning to drive period, and restrictions for novices, would prevent 200 deaths and thousands of injuries each year . Read Brake’s campaign calls.
More survey results
Brake and QBE Insurance’s survey of young people in the South West reveals widespread risk-taking among young drivers, and that many young people are putting their lives on the line by riding as passengers with peers:
- 24% have been a passenger with a young driver who had been drinking or taken drugs
- 54% have been a passenger with a young driver who broke speed limits by more than 10mph
- 15% don’t always belt up when a passenger with a young driver
Click here for full survey results, on a restricted-access, embargoed web page.
Martin Howard, campaign spokesperson at Brake, says: “It is unacceptable that more young people die in preventable road crashes than from any other cause. Every day, more families face the unbearable news that a loved one has been killed suddenly and violently, or suffered a horrific injury, in young driver crashes. We are calling for action to tackle this needless suffering and the huge costs to society.
“We need drivers of all ages in the South West to show compassion at the wheel, to realise they have lives in their hands, and pledge to drive safely and legally. And we need the government to help young, inexperienced drivers to be safer, by implementing graduated driver licensing: we’re appealing for a commitment to this evidenced, life-saving policy during Road Safety Week.”
Emergency services’ work to save young lives:
Emergency services and local authorities around the UK are taking part in Road Safety Week – many as part of year-round awareness-raising programmes – to get the message across about the horror of road crashes and persuade young people to stay safe on roads. The Road Safety Week launch in the South West is being kindly hosted by the Safe Drive, Stay Alive partnership.
Steve Jugg, watch manager with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, says: “We launched Safe Drive, Stay Alive in 2006 to try to bring down the number of young people killed and injured on the county’s roads each year. The presentation is hard-hitting, emotional and can be upsetting – but we know that it has a real effect on those who see it. I’ve seen things at road traffic collisions that I wouldn’t want anyone else to see or experience, as have my colleagues in the fire service and those in the police. Telling our stories makes young drivers think about their actions, and hopefully saves lives.”
Simon Johnstone, from Salisbury, was 19 when he fell asleep at the wheel, crashing his car and causing serious injury to himself and his girlfriend. The crash left him paralysed for two-and-a-half years, and he had to learn to walk, talk, eat and drink again. He suffered permanent brain injury which affects his memory and he still struggles to control the right side of his body. Read more.
Since the crash, Simon has been committed to educating young people of the dangers they face on roads, including taking part in local project Safe Drive Stay Alive. He is supporting Road Safety Week in the South West, appealing to young people to consider the consequences of taking risks at the wheel.
Simon said: “I couldn’t move or do anything after my crash. I had to be fed by a drip. I have scars all over my body, and my life was turned upside down. I didn’t know what had happened or much about myself. I used to shout and get violent because I was so angry but couldn’t express myself. Now I can’t think logically, or cry, and my short term memory means I often don’t remember people. If I could turn back time I would. Don’t make the same mistake I did and think you can get away with taking chances at the wheel.”
Ashley Brixey, 20, was killed in October 2004, by a young drunk and drugged driver coming back from a night out with friends. The driver lost control on a bend, and the car went through a garden fence and landed upside down in a swimming pool. Ashley was knocked unconscious and drowned. Read more.
Ashley’s mother Clare Brixey, from Frome in Somerset, is supporting Road Safety Week and calling on all young people to think of Ashley and take responsibility on roads to prevent more tragic deaths and injuries.
Clare Brixey said: “Losing my son has been the most painful experience imaginable. Not a day goes by when I don’t miss him. I now put my energies into educating young people about not taking dangerous chances on roads and campaigning to make roads safer. I feel it’s my duty to do all I can to prevent more families suffering as mine has. Unfortunately, too many young people think taking risks on roads is exciting. I’m here to tell them the reality: it could kill or permanently injure you, or one of your mates, or another innocent person. I’m urging young drivers – and drivers of all ages – to ask themselves how they would feel if they caused someone’s death or serious injury, if they ruined someone’s life or their own, because of taking a chance, or for a quick thrill.”
James Barnett, 20, from Semington near Trowbridge, was killed riding his motorcycle on the A361 the day after Boxing Day in 2002. It was 8pm at night, and it was dark. A car in front of him had crashed into a telegraph pole, causing it to lean. The wires drooped over the road and James went straight into them, unable to see them. They hit him at neck height, pulling him and his passenger off the bike. James’ windpipe was crushed and he died at the roadside. At the time of his death James was a first-year Higher National Diploma student at Lackham College, training to become landscape gardener. Read more.
James’ mum Claire Barnett and dad Dave Barnett are calling on young drivers and motorbike riders to do everything they can to protect themselves and others, to prevent more young lives being cut short.
Claire Barnett said: “It is difficult to explain the total devastation of losing a child. My family will never be the same again. All our lives are poorer without James. However I firmly believe that by speaking to other young people about James, through Safe Drive Stay Alive and supporting Road Safety Week, I can help to prevent more young people needlessly dying in road crashes. I believe that out of the horror of James’ death, I can produce a positive outcome. I want to tell all young people that risks on the road are very real. You are not invincible and it really could happen to you so don’t risk it.”
More about the Road Safety Week campaign:
- Read full results of the survey of 670 young people
- Read Brake’s factsheet on young driver crashes
- Read Brake’s ‘Too young to die’ campaign agenda
- Brake advice for young people on staying safe as drivers and passengers
Road Safety Week is an annual event coordinated by Brake, now in its 15th year, which involves thousands of schools, communities and organisations taking action on road safety. It is supported by headline sponsor QBE Insurance, additional sponsor FedEx and regional sponsor Fleet Support Group in the South West. See www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk for more info.
Notes to editors
 Results from a Brake and QBE Insurance survey of 670 young people age 15-25 in the South West region conducted via schools, colleges, universities and youth clubs
 Death registrations in England and Wales: Table 2 Deaths by age, sex and underlying cause, 2010 registrations, Office National Statistics, 2011
 In 2010, 451 young people age 15-25 were killed on UK roads, 6,243 were seriously injured, some suffering life-changing injuries such as paralysis, brain damage or loss of limbs. A further 54,000 were slightly injured. Figures provided to Brake by the Department for Transport and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, September 2011
 Figures provided to Brake by Department for Transport and Police Service of Northern Ireland for 2010, September 2011
 Reported road accidents involving young car drivers: Great Britain 2009, DfT, 2011
 Restricting young drivers, The University of Cardiff, 2010
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 65 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (21-27 November 2011), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
QBE – providing insurance solutions for 125 years
QBE Insurance Group is Standard & Poor’s A+ rated and one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers with operations in all the key insurance markets and over 14,000 staff worldwide. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE is a lead underwriter in its chosen markets, setting rates and conditions. For the year ended 31 December 2010, QBE’s gross written premium was US$13.6 billion.
QBE European Operations, which accounts for over 25% of the group’s turnover, is a specialist in business insurance. Active in both the Lloyd’s and company markets, QBE offers considerable diversity and distribution power to its UK and European customers via three product-focused underwriting divisions: property, casualty (liability) and motor, marine, energy and aviation and reinsurance.
Fleet Support Group (FSG) is the largest independent vehicle management company in the UK and looks after approximately 55,000 vehicles. The well-established organisation based in Chippenham, Wiltshire, has gained an enviable reputation within the industry by continually concentrating on delivering a consistent, quality service embracing full vehicle acquisition and disposal, vehicle outsourcing, fleet management, risk management and work-related road safety, maintenance management, accident management, breakdown recovery, short-term car rental and truck management. Within the FSG team, there is significant industry experience and qualifications across the range of services provided. This in turn is supported by an in-house IT operation which is continuously upgrading the internal systems and applications to ensure that, by innovation and product development, FSG leads the field in the provision of vehicle management.
FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every U.S. address and to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.