Young drivers get the message

By Lawrence Gullery

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A van in collision with a car on a bridge near Taradale, killing two teenagers, will be on display at this year's Hawke's Bay Youth Alcohol Expo.

The expo aims to encourage school pupils to make sensible and safe choices when they're either behind the wheel of a car or passengers in vehicles.

It will be held from May 13 to 17 at the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale, headed by RoadSafe Hawke's Bay and police.

RoadSafe Hawke's Bay spokesperson Linda Anderson said putting the van on display would be a sobering reminder of the double fatality recorded on a local road in 2009.

"When they see the van it becomes very clear that something terrible happened here. Some of the kids know someone who was involved and it really does have a huge impact."

Car crash survivor Jarrod Thomas would also return to the expo to talk about road safety.

The expo is now in its fourth year and previously focussed on the impacts of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"This year we are also going to include cellphone use in vehicles," Ms Anderson said.

"We've had a woman who has been working with us on a campaign over the past couple of years to stop people using their mobile phones while driving and she will be with us at the expo.

The woman's grandmother died in 2010 after being run down by a texting driver on a pedestrian crossing outside the Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings.

"It was the first fatality after the law was passed making the hand-held use of a mobile phone while driving illegal."

Ms Anderson said she expected about 2500 pupils from Hawke's Bay schools and special education centres to attend the expo this year. There would be about 15 police staff helping out with the week-long programme.

Surveys would be run before and after the expo to help gauge what difference the programme had made in the way young people approach sensible driving.

"In previous pre-surveys, we've asked the kids if they would get into a car if the driver had been drinking or using drugs. They tended to say they would, depending on who was driving.

"That was worrying but in the post-survey after the expo the results showed they wouldn't. So it is that change in attitude we are looking to record."

Ms Anderson said the surveys helped shape the following expo and guide where other road safe programmes could be targeted over the next year.

"We are mainly targeting Year 11 students who are the ones getting to that stage where they're starting to drive a vehicle. The schools have been very supportive over the past four expos and it appears they now see it as an integral part of their curriculum."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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