Chilling crash scene drives home safety message to young

A teenage pedestrian has been knocked down and killed, the young girl at the wheel of the car has been arrested for drink-driving and her passenger is trapped in the vehicle.

That’s the chilling scene played out to a crowd of watching sixth formers at Hemel Hempstead’s John F. Kennedy School.

Crash scene reconstruction at John F Kennedy School to push home the message to sixth form students about responsible driving.

Crash scene reconstruction at John F Kennedy School to push home the message to sixth form students about responsible driving.

Thankfully it was not for real – it was an all too realistic reconstruction staged as part of a safety event put on by the charity Druglink together with county emergency services and trading standards officers to drive home the safety message to young motorists and learner drivers.

The reconstruction, which involves students playing a part, tells the sorry story of a young drink-driver who has knocked down and killed an innocent pedestrian.

The passenger in the car is trapped and students look on as she is cut free from the car – something firefighters do for real using noisy cutting equipment to rip off the roof, helping ensure the message really hits home.

Paramedics are seen putting a blanket over the dead body and police cart off the driver in cuffs after breathalysing her.

Crash scene reconstruction at John F Kennedy School to push home the message to sixth form students about responsible driving.

Crash scene reconstruction at John F Kennedy School to push home the message to sixth form students about responsible driving.

While the crash scene happens, Hemel Hempstead firefighter Brett Osbourne explains to the watching teenagers what is going on.

Learner driver Lilly Hughes, who played the part of a trapped passenger with suspected spinal injuries, said: “It was scary. It seemed really real because they were treating me like an actual casualty.

“There was so much noise going on, it was crazy. I never want it to happen for real to anyone.

“I wasn’t even injured but it was still scary so it must be traumatic for someone who is actually injured.”

This is the third year that the safety scheme, which sees the team visit every secondary school in Dacorum, has been in operation.

The vehicles that are cut to pieces by firefighters are provided by Aldenham-based firm FMS Recovery for a nominal fee.

Before the reconstruction students attend five information sessions, which are based in the classroom and cover areas like driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, the effects of injuries from accidents and the impact on families, driving and the law, first aid at an accident scene and what to look out for when buying a car.

Druglink schools liaison officer Bud Windeler, who organises the safety initiative, said: “I think it is so important and we feel that if we can save one life or prevent one casualty then we have achieved something.

“The fire service has found that the number of road traffic accidents they attend is down by 49 per cent this year, so it could be an indication that we are doing a pretty good job.

“We believe so, and certainly the response of the young people has been excellent at all of the schools we attend.

“One of the main things they say is that it has made them think about how they drive and how they react in their cars when they have got a group of friends in the vehicle.

“It has taught them to be respectful of other road users – not just other vehicles, but also pedestrians.”

James Ridgewell, who played the part of the dead pedestrian, said the experience will ensure that he is a safer driver when he starts to learn how to drive and eventually gets behind the wheel unsupervised.

Grace Naylor, 17, who is already driving, volunteered to be the drink-driver in the dramatic reconstruction.

Afterwards she said: “I will be more cautious. There are so many little things I didn’t know about that I now know and things that I didn’t take into consideration when driving, but now I will.”