Students experience ‘impact day’

12.00 | 15 July 2015 | | 3 comments

Students at a Warrington school experienced first-hand the impact of a road traffic collision at an event designed to help keep them safe on the borough’s roads. 

The Halton and Warrington Road Safety Partnership delivered its inaugural ‘impact day’ at Penketh High School, to get students to think about the effects a road traffic collision has on everybody in the community, not just friends and family.

Working together, emergency response teams and the council set-up a ‘live’ crash scene in the school playground. Some students acted as casualties while others watched how the emergency services work together to save lives in an incident.

Following the crash scene, the students were split into groups to take part in classroom sessions to discuss what they’d seen and work out all the people who would be affected by a road traffic collision. Guest speakers, who had felt the effects of a crash, gave a series of first-hand accounts of their experiences to pupils.

Councillor Hans Mundry said: “This exercise gave pupils a chance to focus on how normal life can be destroyed by a road accident in a split second.

“We have targeted young people with this campaign as normally they just think of friends and family, but so many others feel the impact in their lives – emergency services personnel will be affected along with their families, magistrates, teachers, neighbours, witnesses, the list goes on and on.”

Mr B Dunne, head teacher at Penketh High School, said: “This was one of the most powerful reconstructions I have ever seen. In the ‘life-like’ virtual world of video games and computer generated images, powerful messages that require a hard hitting impact can be difficult to get across to youngsters.

“The impact team, with the support of all the emergency services, did an amazing job in bringing their important road safety messages to life at Penketh High School.

“This was very difficult for our pupils to watch but I’m certain that if all youngsters across Warrington get to see this very real insight into the horror of a road traffic accident, dozens of lives could be saved across the region each year.”


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    In order for this idea to work there must be some input about how young people can reduce their road risk. It is not enough for them to witness some of the trauma of a crash and expect them to find their own methods of reducing the likelihood of it happening to themselves. Work needs to be done on strategies to enable them to cope with peer pressure, being passengers in vehicles being driven inappropriately, etc. On its own, the initial high impact of an event such as this is wasted without follow-up work.

    To some extent, the event may even send the wrong message: the Fire Service always rescue the trapped casualties who live to fight another day, and this may reinforce teenage impressions of immortality. More emphasis should be placed on there often being no rush at all to extract casualties, because they are already dead.

    David, Suffolk
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    Unfortunately there is no way of knowing for sure what effect these sort of events have, any more than we can about any other road safety education event, short of following the individual members of the audience in their cars afterwards, to see if they were demonstrating a little extra caution and restraint than they might have otherwise have done. A bit impractical obviously, although I attended one such event once and as we all left at the end of the day, I couldn’t help notice one individual roar off at high speed, well over 50 in a 30 limit! What was disheartening to see was that it was in fact the principal organiser of the event itself! It’s not unusual unfortunately to find that even those tasked with improving safety on the road, are themselves in need of some education!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    This is a really good idea. The ‘impact day’ probably costs a lot to stage so wouldn’t it be useful to see if it has any impact on road safety?

    We could perform a scientific trial: Divide schools into pairs and then randomly assign 1 of each pair to witness the event. Then investigate the students involvement in collisions over the next 3 to 5 years. If the students who witnessed the ‘impact day’ had a lower collision rate than those who didn’t, then this “scientific trial” has provided proof of effectiveness. Not only that, it could be expensive trying to estimate what effect the ‘impact day’ might may have had, whereas running the scientific trial would cost very little.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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