The Calderdale Road Safety Roadshow, organised by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS), was attended by more than 730 students aged 15 and 16 from schools across the borough, who were shown the consequences of driving without care and attention.
Recent figures show that thanks to road safety education initiatives, crews are seeing a reduction in the number of road traffic collisions (RTCs) they attend. Since April this year, there have been 271 RTCs, this is down nine per cent compared to the same period last year when there had been 280.
To help youngsters understand just what could happen if they do not drive carefully, Bev Gough was at the roadshow talking about the death of her daughter Naomi, which happened 15 years ago. Naomi was just 19 when she was involved in a crash on the Burdock Way flyover in Halifax which claimed her life. The former Brighouse High School pupil was killed instantly when she lost control of her Renault Clio, which spun around and hit a crash barrier. Her friend was badly injured. Her Clio had been given to her as a late 18th birthday present.
Steve and Bev of Bailiff Bridge, near Brighouse, set up the Naomi Cheri Gough Foundation which provides education to drivers and supports families who have lost children in road crash incidents. They also do talks to young people to help them to drive carefully. Bev said: “It was the worst news any parent can get, being told your daughter has died. No parent should hear those words. Having a child die before you is just not natural.
"She was studying at Leeds University and was doing a degree in photography. She was bubbly, well-liked and very good looking. She had her whole life ahead of her. She was the life and soul of any party, and she is missed." Naomi's death in 2007 left many people devastated, among them her siblings Shane, now 39, and Rochelle, 33.
“I just want young people to be aware of the impact something like this has on those left behind and that’s why I did this roadshow with the fire service,” added Bev. “It may well be 15 years since Naomi died, but it still feels like yesterday. The pain is still there, and it will never leave, you just learn how to live with it.”
Bev's message to young people is simple - 'stay safe on the roads' and 'stay focused': "People are driving what can be a dangerous weapon,” she added. “I urge people to stay focused. You are carrying a precious cargo – you.”
WYFRS Calderdale District team organised and led the event, which itook place at the Victoria Theatre in Halifax today, November 22nd. WYFRS District Commander Laura Boocock said too many young people are involved in road traffic accidents locally. “It is hard when you go to an accident that involves young people as there are often a few of them in the car – we rarely find a young person in an accident by themselves,” said Laura.
“We all know how it can be – showing off to your friends, being distracted – but the message we sent out at the roadshow is that when you are driving this can lead to a death sentence. “We are saying to young people that whether you are driving, or you are a passenger, always put safety first and be aware of dangers. Passengers should not distract the driver and should always wear a seatbelt, and drivers should make sure they should be safe and not cause an accident that could be life threatening to their friends or another driver.”
Also at the event was the deputy mayor, MPs, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Ambulance Service and Humankind from Calderdale, who spoke about the dangers of drug and alcohol use while driving. The Revd Canon Hilary Barber also gave a hard-hitting talk about what it is like at a young person’s funeral.
Laura added: “It is good to see that our road safety initiatives are having an impact on our local communities. Even though there was less traffic on the roads last year, as we were still affected by the pandemic, the numbers still were not as good as what we are seeing this year. We hope that as we go into winter more drivers of all ages will continue to take care when out driving, especially in the dark mornings and evenings and on wet or icy roads.”