Lessons in safe driving on the timetable for young people in Bucks

Buckinghamshire Council’s road safety initiative, Travel Safe Bucks, has once again partnered up with Thames Valley Police and other emergency services to deliver its ‘Safe Drive, Stay Alive’ messaging to young people in the area.

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, Safe Drive, Stay Alive returned to Wycombe Swan Theatre earlier this month, delivering a hard-hitting road safety lesson to almost 6,000 sixth form students from Buckinghamshire and beyond. The event has been running successfully since 2006, during which time more than 324,000 young people across Thames Valley and Hampshire have taken part.

Featuring appearances from members of the emergency services who attend the scenes of road traffic collisions, as well as people who have been affected by road safety incidents, the show is an emotional, challenging but invaluable watch, targeted at 17 – 24-year-olds who may have just started driving, or are about to learn.

The show focuses on the ‘Fatal Four’ – speeding, seatbelts, drink & drug driving and driving while distracted. It seeks to remind young people that they are more likely to die or be seriously injured on the roads than in any other way – it is the biggest threat to their lives, and usually it can be prevented if they just make sure they make the right choices.

Pupils from the Royal Grammar School said the show was “eye-opening to the true dangers of driving”, “very blunt but truthful” and would “make you question who you get into a car with”. A member of staff from Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School said the show was “shocking and hard hitting. It delivered very important messages that need to be told. It had a very personal and ‘human’ touch which made the impact even greater.”

One of the presenting police officers, PC Dawn Seston, experienced directly how the show impacted pupils long after they saw it. She said:

“I stopped a car that sped up and drove through a red light. I asked for the driver’s licence and wrote them a ticket. When I went back to the car, the mum said her daughter, who was sat in the passenger seat, was giving her a hard time, as she had just been to see some ‘road safety thing’.

“The daughter had been to see Safe Drive, Stay Alive a few days before and said how good it was but that it was also really awful. She told her mum that it was heart-breaking and hearing from Shelley, one of the speakers who had life changing injuries due to being in a car crash, was terrible. She went on to say it had been great to go and see the show and that she would never not wear a seat belt.

“It was great to chat with the girl, and it reinforced the message that no one who appears at the show is an actor. We are real people, sharing real stories. It was reassuring to see the message clearly does stick with young people.”

Cabinet Member for Transport, Steven Broadbent, attended the show for the first time this year. He said:

“The messages delivered throughout the Safe Drive, Stay Alive performance are superbly communicated and are incredibly important.  The moving, heartfelt contributions of all those who speak on stage about their experiences with serious road traffic accidents really convey the impact that avoidable incidents and their consequences have. The event is predominantly funded by Thames Valley Police and I want to express my thanks to those who deliver and support this event, plus to the schools and pupils for attending.

“I think drivers of all ages would do well to heed the messages about following the rules of the road and driving sensibly, no matter what. Above all else, I hope people remember – Safe Drive, Stay Alive.”

Safe Drive, Stay Alive continues its tour across the Thames Valley and Hampshire area for the next few weeks. It will be back in Buckinghamshire again next November. For more info about the show, visit: https://safedrive.org.uk