The region’s emergency services descended upon St. John’s College, but it wasn’t what it looked like.
They were there to promote road safety to the College’s Year 11 and 12 students – all of whom are either on the cusp or have already started progressing through the graduated licence scheme.
Alongside the presentation, students had turns wearing “beer goggles” while walking in a straight line to give them an idea of the effect alcohol can have on their vision.
They also took turns using a breathalyser and learnt about how to gain a driver licence.
Peter Connell, Deputy Principal Pastoral Care, organised the event and said it was good to have support from the different agencies to hold the presentation prior to this year’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Last year’s lockdown meant Year 11 students missed out on attending the Hawke’s Bay Youth Road Safety Expo at the Pettigrew Green Arena, and they were unable to make it this year.
“So, for them to come and set it all up, albeit a smaller version, was of immense value.”
Although this kind of information is not in the curriculum, Mr Connell says it was “vitally important”.
“These are decisions that can really have quite serious effects on their lives and on their livelihood, and that of their friends,” Mr Connell said.
“Quite often teenagers are naive in their perceptions. They think they’re bulletproof, so sometimes just having the sobering facts can really help hammer home how important those decisions you make when you're having drinks, partying with friends, or just choosing to drive.”
“I think the more you do, the better, because they'll all be in situations where they'll have to make those decisions and I would hate to have not done anything to help educate them.”
Eastern District Impairment Prevention Team Senior Constable Andy Clinton said Police in conjunction with their partner agencies; Roadsafe HB, Fire and Emergency NZ and St John Ambulance, look at visiting schools with the view of educating young people who have either just started driving or are thinking about it.
“The main aim of the St. John’s College presentation was to provide young people with strategies and options so that they are in a better position to make suitable choices when certain situations arise.”
While a lot of their presentation centres around alcohol and the effects this can cause, they also address factors such as restraints, distraction, and speed.
“It has been found that these factors are overly represented in the vast number of crashes that emergency services attend,” Senior Constable Clinton said.
They also speak about the stages of driver licencing and what needs to be attained at each step so they can progress through the graduated licence scheme.
“We believe that it is vitally important to speak to these young people at this time as they are the next generation of drivers on our roads and have an opportunity to change behaviours of not only themselves but those around them, whether that be their peers or family.”
Year 12 student Dylan Homan said the experience was “eye-opening”.
“It showed us just how easy it is to have a crash on the road and how serious you need to take driving.”
It was the 17-year-old’s first time at a road safety presentation.
“It was useful to be able to experience the different scenarios firsthand, like the ‘beer goggles', and how a small amount of alcohol can blow you over on the breathalyser.”