Critical message for texting drivers

By Kaysha Brownlie

1 comment
MC Acting Sergeant Simon Paul speaks at the Roadsafe Youth Alcohol Expo at Pettigrew Green Arena. Photo / Warren Buckland
MC Acting Sergeant Simon Paul speaks at the Roadsafe Youth Alcohol Expo at Pettigrew Green Arena. Photo / Warren Buckland

Helen Small is looking to open the eyes of young drivers at the Hawke's Bay Youth Alcohol Expo this week.

It is the fourth time she has spoken at the expo, but the first time that she will be presenting to crowds.

Each year the organisers try to add a different topic to the expo and this year they have decided to include an element on speed and stopping as well as a DVD that was created specially to target the dangers of texting while driving.

She was determined to live until she was 100. She deserved a lot more than just to be another statistic.
Helen Small, talking about her grandmother who was hit by a texting driver

While she said she was nervous to front up to the crowds, Mrs Small, who features in the DVD, said it would open young people's eyes that little bit more.

Mrs Small was prompted to join the movement after her 93-year-old grandmother, Phyllis Penman, died in hospital in 2010 after she was hit by a driver who was texting. She urged people to think about the last text they sent, "is that text more important than someone's life?".

The safe driving advocate said the expo was a great resource for youth. She and other guest speakers use sobering personal anecdotes to hit home the message that alcohol, texting while driving, speed and other factors can kill.

"Teenagers are all about cellphones these days, having them included in this year's expo is important.

"She was determined to live until she was 100," Mrs Small said of her grandma. "She deserved a lot more than just to be another statistic."

She hoped her grandmother's story would inform future generations, saying if she heard about another crash caused by texting she would feel awful had she not helped in some way.

Hawke's Bay Youth Alcohol Expo is open to all public with messages that target a broad spectrum of people.

Linda Anderson, who co-founded the expo six years ago, said many of the same messages would be relayed to youth again this year, including the "Just another Saturday night" DVD which showed how the combination of drinking, driving and speed could go wrong. The expo is a joint project with police and is supported by a number of other stakeholders. Year 11 students from schools throughout the region attend. This age group is chosen because at this age many are embarking on their driver licences.

"It is important that they see first-hand how a decision to drive impaired can end in catastrophic results not only for themselves but for their passengers and other road users," Ms Anderson said.

Details:

* Where: Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale

* When: Today and tomorrow from 8.45am-11.30am and 11.45am-2.30pm, Friday 10.45am-1pm

* Public are welcome but must be seated for session start time with restricted access thereafter.

* Free admission.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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