Road safety remains a top priority for students after experts delivered a range of topics to develop safer driving awareness. The Year 13 students, from Richmond Sixth Form College, took part in an initiative supported by the North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau, the Institute of Advanced Motorists and local racing driver and alumnus Max Coates.

The training was instigated by Ian Dawson, a teacher at the school and the young driver advocate at the local branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The students have a weekly ‘Learning for Life’ lesson and road safety awareness is relevant to many of them who are learning to drive or have recently passed their test.

Jamie Smith, an officer with the North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau, spoke to over 120 students about understanding speed and traffic management, road signage and the different types of safety cameras in use. He explained that in North Yorkshire there has been a 16% reduction in casualties compared to a 12% increase nationally.  North Yorkshire is ranked 4th in the country for casualty reduction.  The students were made aware of the outcomes of speeding in terms of the dangers and also the punishments, as well as information on other offences such as mobile phone use, driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and not wearing a seatbelt.

Max Coates, racing driver, highlighted the dangers that are faced daily on the road compared to when he is driving at high speed on the race track when he has enhanced safety equipment, clothing and medical support.

Max said: “It is always a pleasure to come back to Richmond School and Sixth Form College, now as a semi-professional racing car driver and qualified advanced driver through the Institute of Advanced Motorist (IAM).  The initiative that Ian Dawson has set up with IAM and North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau is a very positive and engaging way for students to gain a deeper understanding of safety awareness for young drivers.  My ‘talk’ centred around my own road driving experience and explaining the safety measures we take when on race tracks which allow us to compete at high speeds in as safe an environment as possible.”

Students carried out a team exercise regarding road safety, speed awareness and the highway code.  The three teams with the highest score were invited to a second practical training activity on speed awareness. Working with North Yorkshire Police Traffic Bureau and their volunteers, the 11 students had the opportunity to operate a hand-held safety camera to check speeds of cars on the road outside the school. They were also able to use the mobile tripod-fixed camera linked to sophisticated equipment in the police van.  At the same time the other Year 13 students were completing the IAM E-learning driving modules.

Ian Dawson commented: “Whilst our students are very sensible on the roads, as new drivers it is important that they fully appreciate the importance of being road aware. We are extremely fortunate to have so many experts to support us with this initiative. We are most grateful to the representatives from North Yorkshire Traffic Bureau, The Institute of Advanced Motorists, the Police Volunteers and Max Coates who gave our students a greater awareness of measures we can all take to make our driving safer.”