Young people are being urged to “Speak Out” if they feel unsafe, as figures reveal 234 car occupants aged 16 to 24, have been killed or seriously injured on Kent’s roads in the past three years.
This month, Kent County Council’s road safety team launched the Speak Out campaign, aimed at giving young people the confidence to voice their concerns.
Research shows that many 16 to 24-year-olds in the passenger seat would rather keep quiet and not tell the driver to be careful, even when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable by the way they are being driven.
Kent County Council Road Safety Team Leader Vicky Harvey said: “Car occupants aged between 16 and 24 account for 20% of all fatal and serious road casualties on our roads.
“In addition, where passengers have been injured in a car crash, 68% of those incidents have a driver aged between 17 and 24.
“For those who are passengers of young drivers, I encourage you to look carefully at the person in the driving seat.
“Before closing your door, ask yourself: ‘do I want to give this person my safety?’ because as soon as you shut that door, the driver has complete control of what they choose to do next.
“More young drivers are becoming aware that their passengers don’t enjoy reckless driving and that those who drive badly are viewed by their passengers as poor and potentially lethal drivers.”
The campaign highlights the serious implications and risks of not speaking out.
It aims to raise awareness about driver fatigue, mobile phone usage, how music can affect moods of drivers and how young drivers are easily distracted by their passengers.
Chief Inspector Rhiannan Pepper from Kent Police’s Roads Policing Unit said: “While most drive in full accordance of the law, a tragic minority are killed or seriously injured on our roads – something that we are keen to prevent.
“Getting behind the wheel of a car is a huge responsibility and not something we can allow ourselves to become complacent with. Speeding, using a mobile phone, not wearing a seatbelt or driving under the influence of drink and drugs places other road users at significant risk of harm.
“Everyone needs to play their part and think about the impact their behaviour can have on other road users.”
Colin King, Assistant Director of Customer Engagement and Safety at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The fire service attends hundreds of car crashes each year, and sadly, a number of those incidents result in people dying or sustaining life-changing injuries.
“This is why we hope that the Speak Out campaign will raise some real awareness around the importance of driving safely and help prevent further road crashes around the county and beyond.
“Whether you’re a driver or a passenger, it’s important to always set a good example to others, and understand the serious risks involved with reckless driving.
“It’s absolutely vital that everyone drives safely and ensures the safety of themselves and others around them is always a priority.
“By doing so, we can all do our bit to help keep Kent’s roads safe.”
Cllr Phil Filmer, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, said: “We are pleased to be supporting the Speak Out campaign. “Not only does Speak Out positively encourage young people to find their voice if they feel unsafe but it also provides them with practical advice on how to deal with tricky situations whilst travelling as a passenger in a car.
“Whether you are a pedestrian, driver or passenger we all have a responsibility to help keep Medway’s roads and each other safe.”