Hard-hitting road safety message from Paralympic gold medallist

More than 150 pupils at a leading London school met a Paralympic gold medallist today as part of a national awareness campaign that puts the spotlight on how UK youngsters are taught to drive.

Josie Pearson MBE gave an emotional speech at King’s College School in which she explained to pupils how she was paralysed in a young driver car crash aged just 17.

The Paralympian went to the school as part of Goodyear’s Young Driver Education Week, which aims at encouraging earlier driver education to help reduce young driver accidents.

During the event, over 100 youngsters aged 13 and 14 were given the chance to get behind the wheel of a car as part of the tyre firm’s Driving Academy.

The academy looks at early driver education by getting children as young as 11 behind the wheel of a car whilst bringing the Highway Code into the classroom through an interactive online programme.

Andrew Halls, head master of King’s College School Wimbledon, said: “Too many schools have felt the tragedy of a teenage death in a car accident. Josie’s personal story has helped the boys to learn a very important lesson about driving behaviour.”

Josie, who spent the day meeting pupils, said: “Something needs to change to try to save lives on our roads and bringing the Highway Code into schools could be the way forward.  Youngsters would know all about hazard perception, road signs and stopping distances before they even got behind the wheel of a car if schemes such as Goodyear’s were nationwide.

“Surely if we start teaching youngsters from the age of 11 about safe and responsible driving they will be better motorists in the future?  These initiatives will hopefully achieve just that, but more importantly make newly-qualified young drivers better prepared once they have passed their test.”

Michelle Fisher, Goodyear brand manager, said: “We have some of the safest roads in Britain and yet our young drivers are still being killed in huge numbers.

“Our Driving Academy not only puts the spotlight on early driver education but was also created after we listened to what teenagers wanted – and the message was loud and clear.  They no longer want to be burdened by high insurance costs and the reputation of being unruly drivers.

“The initiatives we have introduced will hopefully achieve just that, but more importantly make newly-qualified young drivers better prepared to drive safely and responsibly having passed their test.”