Record number of SW students to be shown dangers of texting while driving

Press Release

Close to 750 South West high school students will today be given a stark reminder of the dangers of texting while driving during one of the largest crash scene simulations ever hosted by St John Ambulance WA.

Staged at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre on July 27, the event involves local paramedics, Country Youth Ambulance Officers, Police, and students from Manea College’s health and medical program who will act as first responders to a simulated vehicle accident.

Year 10 and 11 students from Donnybrook District High School, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School and Manea College will learn how a crash scene is managed and witness firsthand the consequences for those involved.

161 people died on WA roads last year, with 91 deaths in regional areas. Across the South West in the five years to 2015, 20 per cent of those killed or seriously injured in road accidents were aged 17-24.

St John Regional Training and Services Coordinator Annette Mateljan said young people needed to understand the immediate and long-term consequences of inattention behind the wheel.

“Many of these students will soon be at an age when they’ll be able to drive, which is why it’s so important they recognise what can and does happen when drivers become distracted,” Ms Mateljan said.

“We hear road safety messages regularly, but often that doesn’t have the same impact as actually seeing the consequences played out before your eyes.

“By showing students what paramedics, police and first responders see at the scene of a serious crash, we’re ultimately hoping they will think twice before reaching for their phones while driving.”

Two vehicles will be used on stage as part of the simulation, with interactive displays promoting positive road safety messages set up in the venue’s foyer.

This year’s simulation is among the largest ever staged in regional WA. Ms Mateljan said positive feedback received from local schools prompted St John to expand the event to reach more students.

“We’ve grown this event from just a few classes in 2013 and now have involvement from four South West schools and hundreds of students,” Ms Mateljan said.

“I think that’s testament to the positive impact it has on young people at the point they’re learning to develop safe driving habits.

“Just two seconds of inattention behind the wheel is the same as driving blind for 33 metres. This is one of many messages we’re hoping students take away from the event.”

Ms Mateljan said the event was another example of St John working in the community to promote first aid.

“Students who have been taught first aid by St John will also be putting their skills to the test in this event. St John has continued its commitment to youth by providing free first aid training in schools with more than 600,000 young West Australians taught by us in recent years.”

The event is supported by the Road Safety Commission, City of Bunbury, Roadwise, Qube Ports and Bulk, RAC, Young Drivers South West, Industry Road Safety Alliance, Road Trauma Support WA and SDERA.

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