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Emergency services join forces for road safety scheme

drivewise 2017

Launch of WiseDrive

EMERGENCY services in County Durham and Darlington have joined forces to promote a scheme aimed at making young people better and safer drivers.

‘WiseDrive – Drive for Life’ is a police-led initiative which aims to teach students across County Durham and Darlington about road safety.

The award-winning workshop is supported by Durham Constabulary, the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), County Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue Service, Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council.

The scheme, which was officially launched today (Friday, October 6) will see almost 1,000 year 11 students, from 25 local schools, receive safety demos over the three weeks it is running from September 29 to October 17.

In the Durham Force area alone, 1,147 young people aged 15-24 years were injured in road traffic collisions between 2014 and 2016. Of these, 142 young road users were either killed or seriously injured. 

County Durham and Darlington Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “This is an excellent event and I am delighted to support it again this year. It will be great to see so many young people present.”

Inspector Jon Curtis, from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU), said: “It’s a sad fact that one in every five newly-qualified drivers will crash within a year of passing their test, but we know that most collisions are avoidable. We want to change this by building on young drivers’ knowledge.”

WiseDrive, which takes place at The Work Place, Aycliffe Business Park, sees students take part in a series of practical sessions tackling issues around the ‘Fatal Four’ which are the most common causes of death and serious injury in road traffic collisions. These are drink and drug driving, failure to wear a seatbelt, excess speed and distractions such as mobile phones.

Students will participate in interactive activities using a seatbelt sled, beer goggles and CPR dummies.

Insp Curtis continued: “This hands-on training could enable somebody to one day save a life at the roadside.

“Our Road Policing Unit along with emergency service partners and local authorities want to positively influence attitudes and behaviour among young road users. We have offered this valuable opportunity to all schools in the Durham Force area for over a decade which shows how seriously we regard the issue of road safety and the commitment we have to preventing further deaths and injuries.”   

The initiative is also being supported by two families who have lost loved ones in road traffic collisions.

Billy, Stephanie and Rachael Sanderson, from North Shields, will speak to students about how it felt to lose their son and brother Michael Sanderson, who was 24 at the time of the crash, which happened near Meadowfield, County Durham, in October 2015.  Michael was a front-seat passenger in a Renault Clio when it collided with a brick wall.

Also attending will be Anita Thompson who lost her son, Nick Davidson, from Middleton-in-Teesdale. He was 27 when the Audi A4 he was also a passenger in crashed into a tree near Barnard Castle and burst into flames.

The WiseDrive scheme began in 2001 and more than 14,000 students from across County Durham and Darlington have taken part in a series of workshops and practical sessions during that time. 


Pictured at the WiseDrive launch are, from left, Steve Roebuck, from North East Ambulance Service, Nicolas Cook, lay member of Police and Crime Panel, Ron Hogg, County Durham and Darlington Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, Coun Brian Jones, member of the Police and Crime Panel and Darlington councillor, and Chief Inspector Graham Milne, from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit. 

Posted on Friday 6th October 2017
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