A Northern Ireland-wide competition to promote safer driving skills among young people concluded earlier this month with an awards ceremony at Stormont, home of the country’s elected assembly.
Grace Somerville, who attends St Mary’s College in Belfast, took the inaugural title of Northern Ireland’s Safest Young Driver as well as £1,000 towards her motoring costs following a test of her driving abilities using in-car ‘black box’ technology provided by the accident services provider CRASH.
The competition was organised by CRASH with the support of the country’s further education colleges and universities.
Grace was one of 14 finalists shortlisted from more than 400 entries from across Northern Ireland. The finalists, aged between 17 and 21 years, proved their skills over 10 weeks using data collected by the Ingenium Dynamics technology which was installed in each of their cars.
Tony McKeown from CRASH said: “Young drivers are often unfairly labelled as potentially more irresponsible or unsafe on the roads, and while there is still much work to be done in encouraging safer driving among this key age group, we are absolutely thrilled by the overwhelming response we have had to take part.
“It just goes to show that our next generation of drivers are keen, willing and able to embrace safer driving right from the start – and that’s something to be encouraged.
“Grace has proven beyond doubt that she was not only aware of the rules around safer driving but was an extremely cautious and alert young driver and quite rightly earned her place as Northern Ireland’s first Safest Young Driver.
“This was the first year of this unique, awareness-raising scheme and we look forward to developing it further for next year.”
Speaking at the awards event, Mark H Durkan, Northern Ireland’s environment minister, said: “I welcome the efforts that these young people have made and am keen to learn how they have progressed during the competition and if telematics has the potential to improve road safety.
“My department has undertaken to carry out research into the use of telematics products, and I remain open to the possibility of embracing this technology.”