A new Midlands wide publicity campaign has been launched today in Shropshire, asking young people to imagine how they would feel if their driving resulted in a friend sustaining permanent, life changing injuries.
The 'Best Mate' campaign is based around a short film showing three young friends enjoying a game of beach volleyball. The sense of fun and exuberance is replaced by feelings of guilt and remorse for one player as he sees the fourth member of the 'gang' watching from the sidelines, unable to join the others having lost a leg in a car crash. The campaign states 'You crashed the car, your mate has to live with it'.
The campaign portrays a realistic scenario as every year thousands of young people are affected by the consequences of road traffic collisions. Young people are at greatest risk of being injured or killed in road traffic collisions. In 2006 for example, 32,677 17-21 year old car users were killed or injured in Great Britain and 17-21 year olds represented a quarter of car users killed (DfT figures).
The making of the campaign was particularly poignant for Oliver Netherton, the male volley ball player in the film. Two of Oliver's friends died in a car crash in which the driver survived. Regardless of the cause of the crash, the driver is having to live knowing that two of his friends died whilst in his care.
Stephen Bentley, Cabinet spokesperson on Transport, Borough of Telford & Wrekin said;
"'Best Mate' is a road safety campaign that speaks for itself without lecturing young drivers and their passengers. Telford & Wrekin Council is pleased to be a member of the partnership that has produced this campaign and we hope that people who view it will pass it on to their friends and family. Ultimately we hope that it will help to save someone from death or serious injury."
Steve Chadwick, Senior Road Safety Officer for Shropshire County Council said;
"This campaign message reminds young drivers to think about their own behaviour, when out and about with friends".
Ashley Brown, Road Safety Co-ordinator for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said;
"Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are committed to reducing the number of people killed and injured on the roads. We are happy to be taking part in the Safer Roads Partnership campaign which highlights the consequences that one particular persons actions has on all in the vehicle. A number of Fire and Rescue Service vehicles will be displaying the image on, as a constant reminder to all. Each year the Fie and Rescue Service responds to a high number of Road Traffic Collisions and any effort to reduce the number of people injured and killed is welcomed."
Superintendent Matt Mead, Strategic Roads Policing, West Mercia Constabulary said;
"Across West Mercia, young drivers are far too heavily represented in collision statistics. Young drivers can be over confident behind the wheel and their inexperience does not allow them to understand the consequences of losing control of their vehicle which is a major factor in most collisions, often associated with a failure to look properly, poor judgement and excessive speed. Many of the younger drivers and their passengers who are injured in collisions could have avoided the incident if the drivers had slowed down and gave themselves more time to react to the road environment. The fact that younger drivers are in a high risk group is not only an issue for them, but those who travel in their cars as passengers, other road users, pedestrians and the many family and friends that road crashes affect."
The film can be viewed at www.best-mate.net and is also being promoted on You Tube, via social networking sites. It will also be shown as a cinema advert and is being supported by radio adverts, outdoor posters, attendance at local college events and advertising on fire appliances across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin.