An innovative campaign aimed at reducing the number of killed and seriously-injured crashes involving young drivers has received a prestigious award.
Nationally, young drivers – aged 24 years and under – make up 25% of all those drivers killed or seriously injured on the road network, but account for only 8% of licence holders, according to the RAC Foundation.
To help tackle this, an emotional theatre-education project, ‘Licence to Kill?’, has been developed to explore the circumstances and consequences of a road traffic crash.
Since 2007, around 60,000 16-to-18 year-olds (Years 12, 13 and MidKent college student in Medway) from across Kent and Medway have participated in the performance.
As the emotive story of a serious collision is told on screen, the film is halted for the audience to hear a series of first-hand live accounts, from police officers, a firefighter and a paramedic, who relate stories of crashes they have attended involving young drivers.
The show culminates with the accounts of victims, one whose life was changed forever when he was involved in a serious crash as a teenager; and a woman, now in her early 20s, who suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash when she wasn’t wearing a seat-belt as a teenager.
Also taking part is a mother who lost her 16 year daughter in a collision and a father whose son died when he was a passenger in a car being driven at speed by a driver over the drink drive limit.
Representatives from the organising team of ‘Licence to Kill?’ were presented with a High Sheriff Award in a ceremony on Thursday 10 March.
‘Licence to Kill?’ is organised and presented by Kent County Council and Medway Council’s Road Safety Team, Kent Police, Kent Fire & Rescue (KFR) and South East Coast Ambulance Service.
The High Sheriff of Kent, William Alexander, said: “Watching my first ‘Licence to Kill?’ performance recently in Gravesend, together with several hundred about-to-be young drivers, proved to be an emotional and thought-provoking experience for all of us.
“This boisterous audience enjoyed the romantic opening scenes, but quickly became subdued after a car accident and its aftermath sequences unfolded on screen.
“When members of Kent’s emergency services related their personal stories of incidents they had attended, everyone’s attention was held and you could hear a pin drop in the theatre.
“‘Licence to Kill?’ provides a most effective way of raising awareness around safety issues facing young people and should be compulsory viewing for all of this age group.
“I was so impressed by the quality and professionalism of this collaborative safety initiative that I willingly recognise all the partners in the ‘Licence to Kill?’ project with a High Sheriff Award.”
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport Matthew Balfour said: “The idea behind ‘Licence to Kill?’ is outstanding. It provides hard-hitting and emotionally-demanding eyewitness accounts directly to tens of thousands young people across the county.
“It helps them understand as clearly as possible the life-changing and sometimes fatal consequences of poor decisions while driving. This award is a tremendous and well-deserved achievement.”
Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services Cllr Phil Filmer said: “I am pleased to see ‘Licence to Kill?’ being recognised with a High Sheriff Award and it highlights the great work carried out by all those involved.
“With an increasing number of our young people looking at self-employment, this event is never more relevant. It highlights the responsibility of driving whether as a passenger or driver.
“We hope every young person that sees this production will walk away feeling more informed and better equipped to make safer choices.”
KFRS’s road safety manager Alexa Kersting-Woods said: “We are delighted to have been honoured with this award, which recognises the impact that Licence to Kill has had on so many young lives, as well as the hard work that has gone in to the project by all those involved.
“KFRS is committed to working with our road safety partners on further reducing the number of young people who are killed and seriously injured on our roads.”
Background: Since 2007, around 60,000 young people have seen the production. ‘Licence to Kill?’ has won a Gold Award from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, as well as a national ‘Learning on Screen’ Award from the British Universities Film and Video Council.