Mock intersection demonstrates safety issues

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Take care . . . Columba College pupils Holly Friedlander (left) and Ashleigh McDonald wield caution tape they used in a Students Against Dangerous Driving demonstration at their Dunedin school. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A gymnasium in a Dunedin school was transformed into a mock intersection to highlight road safety issues.

Columba College pupils Holly Friedlander (16) and Ashleigh McDonald (17) are Students Against Dangerous Driving (Sadd) members at the school who have held activities this year to influence their schoolmates to make an impact on reducing road trauma.

Holly, a Sadd national co-leader, said the school had eight Sadd members – a mix of year 12 and 13 pupils – who held activities for pupils who were too young to hold a driver’s licence.

To raise awareness, they transformed the school’s gymnasium into a mock intersection which included a blind corner, to highlight why pedestrians should also obey rules, such as keeping left when running on a footpath.

Holly said she had been “bowled multiple times” by junior pupils running on the wrong side of a footpath.

Often young drivers believed “nothing can hurt me” but the statistics told a different story, she said.

As of August 25 this year, 11 people aged between 16 and 19 had died on the roads in New Zealand.

Although it was a drop of nearly 50% of deaths for the same period in the past four years, young drivers were still over-represented in some areas.

Of fatal crashes involving cellphone use in the last five years, 30% have featured a driver aged between 16 and 19, she said.

Sadd national manager Donna Govorko said she was really impressed with the group’s efforts in Dunedin.

“Having experienced the tragedy of road crashes first-hand as a police officer, it is heartening to experience the passion our Sadd students have to help influence all New Zealanders to be safe on our roads.

“I also applaud the students’ aspiration to help prepare their peers to be safe on our roads heading into summer and the end of the school year.”

Automobile Association policy and research national manager Simon Douglas said the association was “right behind” the group.

“Seeing the number of deaths among young people nearly halve so far in 2019 is heartening, but at the same time young people are still getting hurt in ways that can be prevented, like not wearing seatbelts, driving too fast for conditions, being drunk or drugged behind the wheel and using a phone featuring in so many deaths.”

The Sadd charitable trust was established in 1985 and had a presence in 75% of NZ secondary schools.