Driving for survival message delivered

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

“My life, my choices” is the message Rotary Youth Driver Awareness co-ordinators are hoping to get across to their young charges.

A day-long course held last week at Telford Campus took South Otago High School pupils through the steps necessary to keep themselves safe as drivers and passengers in a car.

Co-ordinator Naomh Cusin said the course was aimed at senior pupils “because they’re the ones starting out on this journey”.

Mrs Cusin said many different factors affected our ability to drive safely, including people’s mood.

“The ‘Mind Matters’ part of the course looks at how feelings of anger, excitement or sadness can affect your driving, and also your personality,” she said.

“Are you a risk-taker? Do you have self-control?”

Learning to understand those unique risk profiles would help keep not only themselves safe but other road users also.

“We want them to be aware that there are other cars around, along with cyclists, elderly people and children.

‘‘Drive so others survive.”

For passengers the message was “speak up”.

“Not all young people have the confidence to say something if they think something isn’t safe. We want to give them different strategies they can use to get their point of view across.”

Crash survivor Claire Freeman was on board to help, talking pupils through the details of an accident that robbed her of the ability to walk.

In the know . . . Car crash survivor Claire Freeman talks South Otago High School pupils through the details of the crash that left her disabled. PHOTO: JACK CONROY

South Otago High School deputy principal Nigel Scarth said it was “good for the kids to have people with outside expertise teaching them these things”.

Last Wednesday’s session concluded with a practical demonstration, as Balclutha police staff drove a car at various speeds, showing the difficulty of attempted braking at each.

Participants fell silent as a dummy was hurled into the air, a victim of a failed attempt to brake at 60kmh.