Young passengers encouraged to ‘Speak Up’ and save lives

The Kent Road Safety team has launched its annual campaign to encourage young passengers to find their voice and ‘speak up’ if they think a driver is driving irresponsibly.

See the full press release...

In the last three years, 210 young people aged 16 – 24 were killed or seriously injured on Kent’s roads, which makes up 30% of the total number of all car occupant casualties. The reason for this increased risk is that many young passengers are driven by young drivers. Young drivers are vulnerable to peer pressure and to taking risks, that can lead to them driving too quickly, over-estimating their driving ability and often being tempted to use their mobile phone when driving. This leads to an increased likelihood of being involved in a crash possibly even cutting lives short, either their own, their passengers, or other road users.

Steve Horton, KCC Road Safety Team Leader, said:

“I completely understand that it is very difficult for young passengers to speak up if they feel unsafe. They think that they are going to be ridiculed for saying something, but the one thing I would encourage all passengers, whatever their age, to do when they get into a car is to look closely at the driver and ask themselves ‘do I want to give my safety to you?’. Once that door slams, that is what you are doing, you are entrusting your safety totally to the driver. You rely on their choice of how they control that tonne-and-a-half of metal and unless you speak up, they are unlikely to change their behaviour.

“If you find it is just too difficult to let the driver know you don’t like the way they are behaving, maybe its time to make an excuse and get out. One sure way to get their attention could be to say you’re going to be sick in their car and you need to get out.  Another way could be to say you need to make a call but have to speak privately or in a quiet place. Whatever reason you find, the walk back or bus fare home would be a small price to pay for getting you out of that bad situation.”

The campaign is kicking off with a website and a 3-minute film ‘Speak Up’, which was specially commissioned to illustrate some of the issues faced by passengers. The campaign will also use bus-back adverts, posters in pub and club washrooms, social networking and radio adverts.

The Kent Road Safety Team is aiming to mirror the success of last year’s campaign, when 68% of the young people they spoke to said they remembered the campaign, and of those, 93% said that they had ‘spoken up’ because of it.