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Nothing could prepare me for the experience of being pulled from a ‘car wreck’

| 16.03.16

  • Student tells of emotional impact of extrication demonstration
  • Mother gives painful account of night her daughter was killed in a crash
  • Sixth former shocked by accident statistics
  • Commissioner says reactions show event is truly worthwhile

A 17-year-old student has told of the fear and isolation she felt while experiencing an emergency extrication from the driver’s seat of a simulated car wreck.

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Vicki Grimshaw in a go-kart at the Drive for Life event

Vicki Grimshaw was taking part in a ‘Drive for Life’ event at Rednock School in Dursley, where sixth formers were being exposed to the bleaker side of driving as well as learning how to be safe behind the wheel.

During the demonstration, Vicki experienced what it was like to be trapped in a crashed car with blue lights flashing around her and fire crews breaking in to get her out.

In a message sent to organisers afterwards, she says that while it was only a demonstration, she felt a real ‘emotional impact’ and had understood the most important message of the event, that drivers were in control of their lives and that of others. She said:

“Obviously this was all pretend and I knew everything was going to be fine, however, I felt that I had actually been in a real crash, my whole body was shaking and I felt so scared.

“I think today has been a realisation of the consequences of not driving safely and socially. Being in that situation today is something that I never want to relive and I’d never want to hear of a similar tragic accident involving another young person anytime in the future.”

Read Vicki’s full account of her experience here.

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Vicki takes the driver’s seat during a live extrication demonstration

Students also heard from campaigning mother Heather Davies who told of her ‘horrendous, indescribable pain’ the night her daughter Leanne, 19, was killed in a crash in the Forest of Dean. Leanne’s then boyfriend Paul Reddan was later convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. Heather told the students:

“My message to you today is to always have that constant reminder that when people drive cars in such a manner it destroys lives. We must all strive to not only continue to improve the way in which we drive everyday but also accept the responsibility that we all have when we take to the road.”

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Commissioner Martin Surl with Zoe Jackson, Heather Davies and Fran Jacobs of Leanne’s Gift, a charity that was set up in memory of Heather’s daughter who was killed in a road collision in the Forest of Dean in 2013

Rednock student Dom Brown, 18, who has had his licence for nearly a year, said,

“Hearing from someone who’s lost her child shows that you really need to be less selfish on the road, to realise that your actions can affect other people. It does teach you to drive safely.”

Kirsty Gaunt, 17, has just passed her test. She said,

“It’s shocking to learn that one in five new drivers have a crash in the first six months of passing their test. I think this event has been a really good experience for our age group, as many of us are at the stage where we are driving or learning to drive.”

‘Drive for Life’ was organised by Gloucestershire’s Road Safety Partnership which is made up of the county’s fire and rescue service (GFRS), Gloucestershire County Council, Gloucestershire Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl.

Mr Surl said,

“This day-long event is a big one for any school to host and some of the things these young people have learned can be emotionally overwhelming. But hearing about the type of reaction we’ve had from Vicki, Dom and Kirsty makes it a truly worthwhile exercise and I hope all of the students have taken away a better understanding of the need to be safe and social drivers.”

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure at Gloucestershire County Council said,

“Learning to drive and getting your first car is an exciting time for young people, bringing a sense of freedom and possibility. Drive for Life events are designed to provide a better understanding of the responsibilities that come with driving and we would like to thank Rednock school for being as passionate about road safety as we are by supporting their students to gain these valuable life lessons.”

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Sixth former Keira Madden on the seatbelt sled which simulates a crash at 7mph

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Sam Pearson learns about the blind spot in a car

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Students from Rednock Sixth Form with Watch Manager Ian Robertson, Terry Grocutt of Dursley Lions who donated funding for the Drive for Life Day, Sarah Laming, schools safety officer at The Road Safety Partnership and PCSO Josh Griffiths

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