Students from across the county have been educated in road safety awareness at Worthing Pavilion today (November 3).
This was all part of the Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign – launched by West Sussex Fire and Rescue – which is a yearly event attended by staff from all three emergency services.
The staff were also joined by victims of dangerous driving who gave first-hand accounts of the road traffic collisions that changed their lives forever.
Both of Georgina Dey’s sons were killed in road traffic collisions just one year apart.
Her eldest son Tim was killed in 1999 on his 32nd birthday when a car collided with his motorbike before Barry, 29, was killed after his car was crushed in a road traffic incident.
Memories of that day are still very clear for Mrs Dey.
She said: “It sounds like a long time ago but to me it feels like yesterday.
“My sons were both careful drivers and their lives were taken away by irresponsible racers.
“My house is a shrine to both my boys which makes people feel uncomfortable when they come round to visit but it shouldn’t. I want to talk about my boys with other people. They were both so lovely.”
Around 900 students attended the two sessions throughout the day from a number of schools around West Sussex.
Harry Hirtle, 16, a student from Sir Robert Woodard Academy, in Lancing found the session to be a ‘real eye-opener’.
He said: “I was actually hit quite hard by a car when I was 5 and after watching this, I realise I was very lucky that day. I couldn’t have imagined what it would have been like for my parents.”
The students also heard a first-hand account from another victim of dangerous driving.
Spencer Aston, 28, was a passenger in a car involved in a collision when he was just 15.
The accident left him with brain damage and partial paralysis to the left hand side of his body.
He has been educating students on the risks of dangerous driving ever since and with West Sussex fire for the last 11 years.
Spencer said: “I want to give people the opportunity to appreciate their lives. Whilst I was lying in hospital, I thought to myself ‘I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I went through’. My life would be very different now if it hadn’t have happened.
“I do these talks so that people can think about their life choices. We can’t just reset life and start again.”
Students were visibly shaken by the accounts they heard and the footage they saw.
WSFRS launched a hard-hitting new film made by emergency services across Sussex aimed at keeping young drivers and passengers safe on the roads as part of the 11th year the campaign.
Watch manager at Shoreham fire station Chris Bowles added: “The aim of today was really just to raise awareness of the dangers out there. We wanted to raise awareness of all the distractions and potential distractions that drivers face and encourage them to drive safely.
“This is our 11th year and so far we have educated 80,000 students to drive safely.”
Fellow Sir Robert Woodard Academy students Connor Marshall, Michaela McNaie and Chelsea Riley also attended the session this morning.
Connor, 17, said: “I am going to start learning to drive very soon so it was important to see this. I think Spencer’s account probably spoke to me the most. My parents encouraged me to come along to this because they felt it was important for me to learn.”
Michaela, 16, added: “Spencer and Georgina’s personal accounts were very hard to listen to but it is important to learn.
Chelsea, 16, said: “I have been put off learning to drive a little bit but the message is clear that accidents can happen when drivers are stupid on the roads. It was a very important message to get across.”
The sessions were attended by students from Steyning Grammar School, Shoreham Academy, Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Lancing College, Worthing College, Felpham Community College, The Regis School, The Littlehampton Academy, St Philip Howard and Angmering School.
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