THE very real consequences of speeding, driving under the influence and being distracted by mobile phones will be highlighted at the 2013 Tamworth Young Drivers Expo at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre over the next four days.
More than 1400 students from the Hunter Valley to the Queensland border are expected to visit the event, which begins today.
The expo, which has been running since 1997, starts with a graphic accident simulation, where a young woman dies and a passenger becomes a quadriplegic, each morning.
The dramatic crash scene involves local students, police, paramedics and firies.
Students then learn about braking distances, corner speeds, crash investigation, frontal brain injuries and the need for car insurance, before being placed in a court scene related to the simulated accident.
“That sets the scene for the consequences associated with driving and what happens in a split second can change the rest of their life,” road safety consultant Peter Ryan said.
The former police crash investigator said the “invincible” mentality of youth was the biggest issue, with most young people thinking crashes couldn’t happen to them.
The rise in technology is contributing to problems as drivers feel they need to be connected to what’s going on in the world, even when they’re driving.
“It’s a natural response for drivers to pick up the phone, but the priority is that they focus on driving, not the mobile.”
McCarthy Catholic College students Taylor Ambrose, Cara Paterson, Kim Taggart, Megan Murphy and Isobel Tarte, and Matthew Watts and Shonia Poole from Peel High have been training for the simulation for the past six weeks.
L-plater Shonia, 16, said the experiences of family members had made her well-aware of road safety issues.
Her mother was in a bad accident many years ago, when she was T-boned at the intersection of Marius and Darling streets in Tamworth, before the roundabout was installed.
“She broke her hip and shattered her pelvis,” Shonia said.
“She had to be cut from the car with the Jaws of Life and was in hospital for weeks.
Shonia, from Dungowan, said she’s seen the risks drivers take since getting her learner licence earlier this year and said she doesn’t want to be a statistic.
“I’ve been in a few near misses, where other drivers have rushed to get around me and overtaken on double lines around a corner,” she said.
“I turn my phone off, put it in my handbag, and sit it on the back seat. I don’t even like having the radio on.”