Motivated by tragedy, campaigning dad launches student road safety campaign

There are many honourable people who when faced with tragedy and heartbreak, endeavour to make a safer world for future generations.

Jon-Paul Kerr car accident Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards 2012

Jon-Paul Kerr was tragically killed in a traffic accident 20 years ago. His father Paul hopes the Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards will educate schoolchildren about danger on the roads.

At the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), we cross paths with many of these admirable characters, such as Paul Kerr, 68, who has just launched the UK’s first ever student road safety campaign with parliamentary backing.

Driven by the untimely death of his 17-year-old son, Jon-Paul, in a traffic accident 20 years ago, Mr Kerr was spurred into action to raise awareness of driving safety among young people, because the driver involved in the crash was an 18-year-old who had passed his driving test just a fortnight earlier.

RoSPA and car company Peugeot are both sponsoring the Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards and RoSPA’s chief executive Tom Mullarkey headed down to Westminster for the official launch with Mr Kerr on September 25.

For the first time, 11 to 18-year-olds nationally are being asked to create unique road safety projects that will raise awareness of this life-saving issue to their peers – a generation of future drivers.

The winning projects will even be considered by the Department for Transport (DfT) as future road safety campaigns.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, parliamentary under-secretary at the DfT, is also backing the awards, along with MPs Chris White (Leamington and Warwick) and Jeremy White (Kenilworth), plus road safety and youth organisations.

Paul Kerr Jon-Paul Kerr Peugeot Student Road Safety Awards

Paul Kerr, pictured left, with Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, MP Chris White (front, middle), Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond and Tim Zimmerman, managing director of Peugeot UK. Photo: Anthony Upton.

The Minister said he believed that empowering young people with a sense of responsibility from an early age would help drive down fatalities and serious injuries on UK roads.

Five people a day died on British roads last year, so Mr Kerr’s motivation and creativity to save lives and prevent injuries is a welcome and much-needed asset to the country.

Each fatality costs £1.78m and, sadly, 16 to 19-year-old drivers are the most at risk.

These awards were born out of Mr Kerr’s realisation that there is a lack of education for schoolchildren about danger on the roads.

Mr Kerr, from Warwick, said that there were over 25,000 people killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year, which was the first annual increase since 1994, and added that he “hoped and prayed” this initiative would help to bring this unacceptable figure down.

He added that developing the Student Road Safety Awards had in some way been a way of “coping with my loss”.

The awards start with competitions based on the 38 BBC local radio station areas across England, giving students an opportunity to “think outside the box” and come up with creative projects which will then be judged by a panel in each region.

Winners of the area heats will then go forward to the final in London, where students will present their projects to a panel of road safety experts from the DfT, road safety units and professional bodies.

For more details on the awards and how to enter, go to www.peugeotstudentroadsafetyawards.co.uk.

Alison Brinkworth, RoSPA’s communications officer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: