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Interactive programme for young drivers
and passengers

Teenagers from the Fermanagh area learnt about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and using mobile phones when behind the wheel, thanks to a new road safety programme devised by the Fermanagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Breakthru, and Allstate NI.

A group of students from St. Michaels pledging X the TXT

The interactive programme, which is currently being rolled out in post primary schools in County Fermanagh, gives teens over the age of 16 the opportunity to discover how driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or without due care or attention, can impact on themselves and other road users.

The PSNI is one of a number of organisations supporting the programme. Constable Trevor Kirke, PSNI Road Education Officer, said:

'This is a very worthwhile programme which will leave a lasting impression upon the young people participating, encouraging them to adopt a responsible attitude towards road safety. The programme has the potential to not only influence the young person attending but their family and friends as well.'

The programme has four key elements. The 'Drugs Awareness' workshop is facilitated by Breakthru, who provide alcohol and drug advice and support across the Fermanagh District Council area, and gives an insight into the effect of drugs on a driver as part of the workshop. The second and third workshops, 'Walk the Line' and 'Driving Control,' enable young people to have the simulated experience of being under the influence of alcohol and the resultant difficulties of driving a vehicle by wearing specially designed goggles. The final workshop, 'X The txt,' is facilitated by Allstate NI, and highlights the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. Young people are encouraged to play a game of Mario Kart on a Nintendo Wii whereby they are asked to attempt to send a text message whilst driving to illustrate the difficulties and dangers of driving whilst distracted. This usually has a positive effect where the drivers soon realise it is not possible to send a text whilst paying full attention to the road ahead. Allstate NI also provides a short presentation to inform of the dangers of not paying attention whilst driving and provides stats to drive home the message.

Speaking about the programme, the PCSP Chairman, commented:

'We all need to remind ourselves that cars have the potential to kill. Speed, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, paying undue attention to the road, and using a mobile phone while driving, are among the primary causes of road collisions. Deaths on our roads have a devastating effect on families, friends and our society. It is vital that everyone using our roads, particularly young people who are driving or about to learn to drive, realise the potential dangers of being in a motor vehicle.'

Allstate NI will be continuing to roll out its XtheText Campaign across Northern Ireland in 2013, if you would be interested in the campaign coming to your school, college or university, please contact Catharine at Catharine.mcdonagh@allstateni.com.

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