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#Impact campaign reaches 1000 young people

IMPACT-RAF-MarhamAn initiative aimed at educating young drivers about road safety has reached more than 1000 students at schools and colleges across the county within its first month.

The #Impact campaign was launched by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green last month in a bid to highlight what can happen when things go wrong behind the wheel.

So far the event has toured six venues including City College Norwich, RAF Marham, Easton College, the Open Academy, Great Yarmouth College and the College of West Anglia, King’s Lynn targeting some 1,025 young people.

Supported by Norfolk Constabulary, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) #Impact is spearheaded by Thomas Semmons, 18, who speaks to students about his personal experience of being involved in a serious road collision.

Thomas, from Scarning near Dereham, was seriously injured after losing control of his car in bad weather on the B1145 in Norfolk this summer. The car Thomas was driving tours schools and colleges where students are given pledge cards which they are asked to sign as a personal commitment to road safety.

During his election campaign, Lorne made a pledge to tackle road safety, this pledge has now been built into the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan for the county.

“The fact we have managed to reach more than 1000 young people, at six venues across the county in such a short space of time is simply amazing. I take very seriously the pledge I have made to do all I can to prevent young people from being seriously injured or killed on our roads.

“Thomas is a perfect ambassador for the #Impact campaign and I am very happy that he has agreed to continue to share his experience and talk to young people about the dangers of the fatal four, whether it be drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone or excess speeding.”

At the most recent #Impact event on Wednesday 14 December at the College of West Anglia, King’s Lynn students found Thomas’ story shocking but informative.

Ella Fuller, 19, from Heacham, who volunteered to act as the driver in the demonstration which saw the roof of the car she was in cut off by emergency services, said: “I only passed my driving test a few weeks ago. The demonstration was a terrifying experience but I really hope that the students now realise just how much of an impact their actions can have, not only on themselves but others too. Thomas’ story was very hard-hitting. His crash was purely accidental and I applaud his bravery in coming to talk to us about his experience.”

Kia Bailey, 18, added: “A couple of years ago I was involved in an accident where the car in front of the vehicle I was travelling in suddenly stopped. I was very lucky and only suffered whiplash. Today hit home just how lucky we were. It’s hard seeing demonstrations like this but I think everyone has taken something away from it.”

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, who attended the launch event at City College Norwich, said: “A mock collision display is nothing new, but what #Impact does is bring a story to life by having Thomas describe his experience.

It was clear to see his story struck a chord with students when he talked about his experience, the injuries he suffered and the impact the crash had on his family and friends. It’s pleasing so many young people are getting the chance to see the presentation and I’m confident the campaign will live up to its name and leave students with a lasting memory of what can happen when things go wrong.”

Garry Collins, Head of Prevention and Protection at NFRS, said: “Road incidents are the most common cause of death to our young people. Adopting the impact pledge is an ideal opportunity to change driving behaviour for the better to ensure a safer and more prosperous future for all, while reducing the volume of devastation and number of emergency calls.

“It is much better for everyone to meet and educate our young drivers at a simulated demonstration of this nature, rather than at a real incident to record another fatal statistic.”

Dale Meacham-Roberts, Duty Locality Officer for EEAST, added: “It has been great to reach out to so many young people in Norfolk to demonstrate the impact that a road traffic collision can have on people’s lives.

“It is very sobering for young people to see the work of the emergency services at a road traffic collision demonstration and Thomas’ story sends out a very powerful message about the importance of inexperienced drivers taking care on the roads.”