Paralympic gold medallist joins Young Driver Education Week

A Paralympic gold medallist will front a week-long campaign organised by Goodyear Tyres to put the spotlight on how UK youngsters are taught to drive as annual figures reveal today that more than 130 young drivers were killed last year.

Josie Pearson MBE, who won gold in the discus in the 2012 Paralympic Games with a world record distance, was paralysed in a young driver car accident when she was just 19.

Now the athlete has thrown her support behind Goodyear’s Young Driver Education Week, a national awareness campaign to spread the word on encouraging earlier young driver education.

Figures released by the Department of Transport today in their 2012 Annual Report on road casualties in Great Britain reveal that 133 young drivers aged between 17 and 24 years died in 2012.  A fifth of people killed or seriously injured during 2012 were in a collision with a young driver.  In the 32,400 accidents involving at least one young driver, 350 people died while more than 4,100 were seriously injured.

Josie said: “After my accident, obviously this whole issue is something very close to my heart and I hope Young Driver Education Week will not only raise questions about how we teach our youngsters but also offer a possible solution.”

The awareness week, which will run from October 14 to October 20, will include a tour of Goodyear’s Driving Academy, which is an online tool teaching the Highway Code in the classroom as well as the opportunity for practical lessons in an enclosed environment such as the school playground.

Michelle Fisher, Goodyear Brand Manager said: “We want to address road-user attitudes and driving behaviour through improved education. The Driving Academy has already given hundreds of children a glimpse of the complexities of driving a car as well as the hazards and we hope youngsters, parents, schools and our MPs will really think about this issue.

“We are meant to have some of the safest roads in the world and yet 133 young people still died in 2012. We need to make pupils as young as 11 realise that driving is about safety not speed and responsibility not recklessness.”

During the week Josie will see the Driving Academy in action at King’s College School, London, and will speak to youngsters about the importance of road safety.

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PRESS CALL NOTICE: One of the main events is due to be held at King’s College School, Wimbledon Common, London, where more than 150 pupils aged 13-14 will get to drive cars and look at the Highway Code on October 15.

The event will run from 08:35am until 16:05pm.  Josie Pearson MBE will be available for interview and there will be a number of broadcast opportunities available throughout the day.  Please call Lee Southen on 07971 465 739 to register your attendance.



Statistics included in the Department of Transport Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report

Facts about young car drivers

1. A fifth of people killed or seriously injured in a reported road accident in Great Britain  during 2012 were involved in a collision where at least one of the cars was driven by a young driver.

2. Around 22 per cent of all accidents involved at least one young driver. The 32,400  accidents involving at least one young car driver resulted in 350 deaths and more than 4,100 seriously injured casualties.

3. Nearly a quarter of all car drivers (133 out of 542 drivers) who died in 2012 were young  drivers themselves.

4. People aged between 17 and 24 make up around 8 per cent of all full driving licence holders in Great Britain. They also drive, on average, about half the distance of older drivers each year.

5. Young car drivers account for an estimated 3 to 5 per cent of all car miles driven each year. Therefore the rate they are involved in accidents is considerably higher than would be expected given the distance they drive.

About Goodyear’s Driving Academy programme

Goodyear launched its pioneering Driving Academy programme in 2012 to educate children about the importance of road safety by placing a real emphasis on understanding the Highway Code.

Instead of placing restrictions on young drivers (currently being discussed by the Government), which could simply delay bad behaviour, Goodyear wants to address road-user attitudes and driving behaviour through education.

The Driving Academy uses an interactive online tool which can be easily run in a school’s IT suite.

Pupils get to play a fun driving game while being quizzed about the Highway Code. The Driving Academy also has a competitive element with scores given and prizes for the best.

As part of the full Driving Academy which has been trialled in more than 20 schools across the UK, pupils also get to sit behind the wheel of a car with a trained instructor who shows them the basics of driving in a controlled area within the school grounds.

The Driving Academy is run in partnership with Young Driver, who specialise in driver training for children aged 11 and upwards, this revolutionary initiative has the potential to save hundreds of lives each year.

The scheme has given hundreds of children a glimpse of the complexities of driving a car as well as the hazards.