NI-wide Young Driver Initiative Concludes at Major Stormont Awards Event
Grace Somerville from St. Mary’s College, Belfast, tops the pile from 400 entries
A new Northern Ireland-wide competition to promote safer driving skills among young people concluded this week at a major award ceremony at Stormont.
The competition was organised by leading accident services provider CRASH with the support of all local FE colleges and universities.
Grace Somerville who attends St Mary’s College, Belfast, took the inaugural title of Northern Ireland’s Safest Young Driver as well as £1,000 towards her motoring costs following a ten-week test of her driving abilities using new, ground-breaking, in-car ‘black box’ technology provided by CRASH.
Grace, who is from Warrenpoint, County Down, was one of 14 finalists shortlisted from more than 400 entries from across Northern Ireland.
SAFE DRIVER: Student Grace Somerville has earned herself the title of Northern Ireland’s Safest Young Driver as well as £1,000 to put towards her motoring costs following a 10-week test of her driving skills using the latest in-car ‘black box’ technology provided by accident services provider CRASH. Grace, who is from Warrenpoint and attends St Mary’s College in Belfast, was one of 14 finalists chosen from more than 400 entries from across Northern Ireland to take part in the challenge. Environment Minister Mark H Durkan was joined by Tony McKeown from CRASH to present Grace with her prize at a major award ceremony in Stormont, which was organised by CRASH with the support of all local FE colleges and universities.
Stuart Catterson who attends Queens and is from Belfast and Ellen McCartney who attends Stranmills College and is from Newtownards were also recognised for their top-scoring safe driving skills, whom, along with the winner, were presented with the opportunity to attend a Skill for Life course which includes a one-year membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, books, and private coaching to help prepare them for the Advanced Driver test.
These safety-conscious young drivers – all aged between 17 and 21 – proved their skills in just 10 weeks using data collected by the Ingenium Dynamics technology which was specially-installed by CRASH in each of their cars.
Tony McKeown from CRASH said:“Young drivers are often unfairly labelled as potentially more irresponsible or unsafe on the roads, and while there is still much work to be done in encouraging safer driving among this key age group, we are absolutely thrilled by the overwhelming response we have had to take part.
“It just goes to show that our next generation of drivers are keen, willing and able to embrace safer driving right from the start – and that’s something to be encouraged.
“Using this innovative technology, Grace has proven beyond doubt that she was not only aware of the rules around safer driving but was an extremely cautious and alert young driver and quite rightly earned her place as Northern Ireland’s first Safest Young Driver.
“This was the first year of this unique, awareness-raising scheme and we look forward to developing it further for next year.”
Ingenium Dynamics is an award-winning driver behaviour management system which aims to improve driving habits. Available through CRASH, it can also be used to help reduce insurance costs by improving driver behaviour over a sustained period.
Speaking at the awards event Environment Minister Mark H Durkan welcomed the effort the fourteen contestants had made to improve their driving ability.
The Minister said: “Young drivers are over represented when it comes to deaths and serious injuries on our roads. In fact, young men are four times more likely to be killed and seven times more likely to be the driver who kills on our roads than their share of population.
“I welcome the efforts that these young people have made and I am keen to learn both how they have progressed during the competition and if telematics has the potential to improve road safety. My Department has undertaken to carry out research into the use of telematics products, and I remain open to the possibility of embracing this technology.
“In addition, last year my Department launched the Share the Road to Zero campaign. As road users, we all share the road – this campaign is asking us also to share the responsibility. I believe that reducing further deaths and serious injuries on our roads, with the ultimate ambition of ‘Vision Zero’, is a critical objective. I firmly believe that every death on our roads is one death too many. The devastating consequences of road collisions have far-reaching effects and we can all play a vital role in reducing road deaths by behaving in a positive way as road users. The key message is that all of us need to use our roads with care, and if we all pledge to Share the Road to Zero, the more likely we are to achieve it.”