Year 14 – PSNI Distraction Awareness/ Safe Driving Initiative

On Tuesday 6 November I was given the opportunity to attend a safe driving course run by the PSNI Bangor, in Eddie Irvine’s.  Once I arrived I was greeted by a Chief Police officer.  He asked one simple question with four different outcomes.  “What do you fear most?”  A ticket, points on your licence, a crash or death.  This took me by surprise; I am 18 years old and have a driving licence, but something as serious as death has never cross my mind.  Some people put their hands up for a ticket, some for penalty points and a crash but none for death.  This puzzled me and left me wondering was the point of this task to make us fear the road?

We were then joined by some of the police officer’s colleagues, better late than never, and we were assigned to a seat on a car simulator.  Once seated, we were given the chance to drive around a virtual town allowing us to get used to the feel of the car and the gear stick.  We were later put into partners, with one person on their phone reading and sending a text.  The second person followed close behind in their car as they watched the vast manoeuvres of the car in front, bumping into the curb and even crashing into other cars. Once we had both had a go at driving whilst on the phone we were then told an interesting and though shocking statement.  “It takes 6 seconds to send a text, yet 3 seconds to kill 6 people in a car crash.”

Later we were to see how it was to drink drive.  No, we did not have to actually drink, but wear what they call “beer goggles”.  This made everything seem blurry and unstable.  Yet again we were put into partners, one wearing the goggles and one following closely behind.  To see the huge effect that drink can make on one’s driving was frightening.  At one point I was driving on the footpath with full belief that it was the road.  There were many bumps and crashes along the way. With being in a simulator it gives you unlimited chances, once you crash you get back up again.  I guess this is what is was all about, to make one mistake can cost a life or many lives, unlike the simulator we have no second chances.  We can’t get back up and move on like nothing had ever happened.

At the end he gathered us all together again to ask us one final question.  “Whatdo you fear most?”  A ticket, points on your licence, a crash or death.  To my surprise, yet relief each individual in the room put their hand up for death.

This was a great opportunity, and really makes me think every time I get in my car.  This course was not to make us fear the road, but to make us aware and think before we do.

Sophie Deaney 14B