Three road safety teams in the West Midlands have used Valentine’s Day to launch a campaign designed to remind young drivers of the ‘potentially catastrophic consequences’ of inappropriate driving behaviour.
The ‘For my girlfriend’ campaign specifically targets young men, asking them to take responsibility for their female passengers. The organisers point to statistics which show more young women (17-19 years) are killed or seriously injured when they are passengers, rather than drivers.
The campaign follows on from the original ‘For my girlfriend’ campaign which launched in Eastern England more than 15 years ago. That campaign, which was very high profile and controversial at the time, featured a Valentine’s card containing a message from a young male to his girlfriend who died as a passenger in the car he was driving.
The current campaign – organised by Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall road safety teams with support from West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Police – also encourages young women to speak out if they find themselves in a situation where they feel uncomfortable as a passenger.
The campaign launched on Valentine’s Day with 179 red roses distributed at local colleges. Each rose represents a young person, aged 17-24 years, who has been killed or seriously injured on roads in the West Midlands in the last 12 months. The roses were distributed to students, with each one bearing a label giving information about the campaign.
Staff from West Midlands Fire Service road casualty reduction team also used virtual reality goggles to simulate the dangers of careless driving, while West Midlands Police were on site to give advice to students.
Cllr Hilary Bills, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council’s cabinet member for environmental services, said: “Our young people need to be aware of the significant and potentially devastating consequences of dangerous driving and our young women need to feel confident enough to speak out when they feel they are being put in a dangerous situation.
“I hope that young people learn from the day and take steps to safeguard themselves and those they care about when on the road.”
Cllr Lee Jeavons, portfolio holder for regeneration, Walsall Council, said: “As a parent of children in the age group this campaign is aimed at, I’m really on board with this message and hope it will help give young people pause for thought.”
Want to know more about young drivers and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory