News release text
Unveiled for the first time at the Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate on Wednesday, the ‘hot hatch’ was the focal point in which students gathered round to pick up potentially life saving tips from firefighters.
Anthony Debling, aged 18, a sixth form student at the school: “The car caught everyone’s attention straight away and I think it’s an interesting and clever way to engage younger people on the issue of safer driving. I’m currently learning to drive so the advice given was relevant and has certainly helped me understand the dangers of reckless driving.”
Fellow student, Henry Mallett, aged 18, agreed: “It’s a really nice looking car and there was always a crowd of people around it. It’s a really good idea for the fire service to come out to schools as students get a greater understanding of the potential outcome of speeding from the people who actually attend accidents.”Ramsgate road safety event
One of the main messages was ensuring that the students understood the importance of not causing a distraction as a passenger. Tips included putting mobile phones on silent, not arguing with others in the vehicle, and not talking to the driver when they are concentrating at busy junctions.
Other advice highlighted the importance of wearing seatbelts, not getting into overcrowded cars, and avoiding getting a lift from anyone under the influence of alcohol.
Kevin Bagar, aged 16, in year 11 at the school, said: “It’s important that people in my age group understand that dangerous driving is unacceptable and having the Astra to look at while we listened to the advice will certainly help us remember what’s been said.”
KFRS were invited to attend the school as part of the Marlowe Academy’s Crime Prevention Week. This has given students the opportunity to learn about the dangers of such crimes such as drug abuse and cyberbullying.
The Astra has been modified with eye-catching graphics, enhanced sound system, and air ride suspension that can lower or raise the height of the vehicle. Although the main target audience for the car is young drivers and passengers, the car may also be used for general road safety activities.
KFRS Community Safety Manager, Alexa Kersting-Woods, explains the benefits of the car: “Young people will be attracted to the car, giving us the opportunity to discuss and deliver potentially life saving messages. This ‘hot hatch’ will also appeal to car enthusiasts who might not otherwise be involved or engaged by our existing activities and events.”
The total cost of the second-hand vehicle was just under £16,400, with suppliers and installers of the modifications giving discounted rates. It was funded from the performance Reward Grant, awarded by central government as a result of the significant reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on Kent and Medway roads, achieved by multi-agency road safety intervention.
Head of Community Safety, Stuart Skilton said: “Every single fatal road traffic collision in the UK costs the public purse around £1.8m, while the cost of treating and caring for those suffering life changing injuries is immense. When you add to that the human tragedy and impact on the family and friends, the amount spent on this important educational tool seems wholly proportionate as it will enable us to reach target audiences and hopefully reduce the number of families who’ve been left devastated by a horrific accident.”