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Keep your valentine safe - 13 February 2015

Love is in the air this weekend and the Safer Roads Partnership in Warwickshire and West Mercia is urging all drivers - in particular 17-24 year olds - to keep their valentine safe and take extra care on the roads.

Young drivers aged 17-24 are over-represented in road traffic collisions both locally and nationally, and 30% of all collisions in West Mercia and Warwickshire last year (2014) involved a driver within this age group. Multi-occupancy injuries are also more common; Young drivers often carry a number of passengers in the vehicle with them and there have unfortunately been a number of collisions which have resulted in numerous killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties.

Anna Higgins, Communications Manager at the Safer Roads Partnership in Warwickshire and West Mercia, says: "With Valentine's in full swing and half term approaching, we're urging all young drivers to show their love for their valentine or look after their mates by thinking about their responsibilities in a vehicle and taking some simple precautions to improve their safety on the roads.

"Unfortunately young drivers continue to be over-represented in collision figures and causation factors include loss of control, inappropriate or excessive speed and distractions such as mobile phones, loud music and passengers. Following just a few simple steps could be the difference between life and death:

  • Belt up! Wearing your seatbelt could save your life. Ensure you belt up every time you get into a car, even for short journeys.
  • Mob off! Mobile phones are a major cause of distraction, turn yours off while driving or switch it to silent so you're not distracted by incoming calls and texts.
  • Slow down. Always keep within the speed limits and drive appropriately to the conditions. If you are involved in a collision, the faster the speed, the bigger the mess. Remember, stopping distances are increased in wet and icy conditions. 
  • Take control. Passengers can be the biggest distraction for young drivers.  Take control of yours to ensure you are driving safely at all times, and let them help you by acting as an extra pairs of eyes and ears on the road.
  • Don't drink or take drugs and drive. Any amount of alcohol will impair your ability to drive and alcohol affects everyone differently. The only safe option if you're driving is to avoid alcohol completely."

The partnership is also urging passengers to think about their responsibilities and the role that they can play to keep everyone safe.

Anna Higgins added, "As a passenger, carrying out simple tasks like making sure you put your seatbelt on every time you get into a vehicle, identifying hazards that the driver may not have noticed, and ensuring you're not a distraction are all simple steps that can make a huge difference.

"The important thing for passengers to remember is that you have a right to feel safe in a car. If the driver is going too fast or driving erratically and you don't feel safe, tell them to stop or slow down. You could even tell a little white lie to get out of the car and say you feel sick or need the toilet.

"The consequences of a serious collision could stay with you forever, so we're urging drivers and passengers to make the right choices and ensure this Valentine's Day is a day to remember for all the right reasons."

The Safer Roads Partnership's 'Green Light' programme is delivered in partnership with the police, fire service and local councils and aims to reduce casualties and collisions among the 17-24 year old age group by raising awareness around three key themes: causes of collisions; the role of passengers; and the ripple effect and long-term consequences of a collision. For more information, visit http://www.greenlightsafety.org.uk/