Dagenham teenagers learn the importance of driving safely

Cheryl Robbins (centre) and mayor, Cllr Simon Bremner at Jo Richardson School

Cheryl Robbins (centre) and mayor, Cllr Simon Bremner at Jo Richardson School - Credit: Archant

Teenagers learned about the dangers of driving through the first-hand experiences of those affected by car accidents.

Nearly 700 students were joined by the mayor, Cllr Bremner, for the Safe Drive Stay Alive Campaign at Jo Richardson School in Gale Road, Dagenham, on Thursday.

Victims, friends, families and emergency workers all shared their experiences of dealing with accidents and coping with their aftermath.

Among the speakers was Cheryl Robbins, from Basildon, whose 18-year old son Philip died in a car crash.

The straight-A student and budding actor was travelling from Basildon to university in Winchester when he was killed 14 years ago.

Cheryl said that hearing from people directly affected makes a big impact on the young audience.

She said: “It takes them on an emotional journey and on that journey they have an experience, a life-changing experience that changes the way they see their actions in a car.”

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Education officer Paul Jeffery, who was a paramedic for 20 years, said that targeting teenagers before they learned to drive was crucial.

“One in three male drivers will be involved in a car crash in their first year of driving,” he said.

“And the crashes they are involved in will be more severe than the average crash.”

“So our aim is that when they get those car keys they understand the consequences and the costs. And we give them strategies.”

He added that the aim was to emphasise to teenagers their responsibility as drivers and passengers.

“The value is to prevent them harming themselves,” he said.

“We prevent their families having to go through sorrow and hardship.”

The mayor, Cllr Simon Bremner, said the presentation was hard-hitting but important to see.

“I think it does hit home for young people,” he said. “It teaches them what can happen when you get in a vehicle.”