Ramsgate and Broadstairs Sea Cadets were given advice about the dangers of using a mobile phone at the wheel on Thursday night (11 June 2015), as Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) firefighters ask young people across Thanet "Are you phone safe when you drive? During Road Safety Month."
Firefighters from Thanet are explaining what they have to do at the scene of a car crash and the impact that crash can have on so many people, including friends, family and the firefighters themselves.
The Sea Cadets were given a tour of the fire engine and shown the hydraulic rescue equipment that enables firefighters to free trapped drivers following many crashes. The young drivers also got to sit in the KFRS road safety car, a modified Vauxhall Astra, which is used to highlight the dangers of the driving on the road. Young people also got the chance to have a photo taken with the campaign mascot; a large smart phone called ‘Selfie’
Frances Robbins, Commanding Officer, Ramsgate Sea Cadets said: "We were delighted to be able to visit Kent Fire and Rescue Service to help our young people think differently about the risks of the road. There is nothing quite like hearing first hand experience of what can happen to people caught up in an crash. Mobile phone technology and social media plays such a large part in their lives, but many aren’t aware of the dangers when the distractions of using a mobile phone is combined with driving a car. The statistics speak for themselves and the messages of the KFRS campaign are crucial, not just for students, but for everyone."
The aim of the ‘Phone Safe’ campaign is to challenge young drivers to ask themselves - ‘Are you phone safe when you drive?’ and to encourage a change in attitudes to the risks associated with using a mobile at the wheel. It is hoped it will encourage them to develop a better understanding of the potential consequences of taking risks behind the wheel.
Road Safety and Safeguarding Manager at Kent Fire and Rescue, Alexa Kersting-Woods said: "Many people are aware that using your phone at the wheel is socially unacceptable and dangerous, but are so easily distracted when a call comes in or they get a social media message.
"Our statistics speak loud and clear – mobile phone distraction can cause serious and sometimes fatal crashes on Kent’s roads. The impact a crash has is wide reaching devastation - it’s heart breaking. Our crews are often the first on the scene of a crash and are faced with such harrowing scenes, which can stay with them for life."
See the infographic on the right for more information (use the zoom link at the top to view full size).
Alexa added: "Our message is clear, next time you are behind the wheel ask yourself if you are phone safe for the journey? Will that call or message that comes through not wait until it is safe to answer? It could mean the difference of life and death. Resist the distraction; it’s not just your life."
KFRS’ campaign is also running alongside the Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFOA), which is also focusing on young drivers and passengers being distracted. Young people are still disproportionately at risk on the roads and are most at risk after passing their driving test.
Throughout June, KFRS is encouraging young people to enter an online competition to win an iPad mini and a VIP tour for up to 11 people of the brand new KFRS Road Safety Experience which opens to the public in April 2016. All they have to do to win is to come up with a name for the road safety car.