Safety message behind shock tactics

Pupils from Otago Girls' High School, Maniototo Area School and Lawrence Area School watch as emergency services demonstrate the realities of a car crash. Photo by Craig Baxter.A group of high school pupils got the shock of their lives yesterday, but it was hoped the message delivered would help prolong them.

More than 170 pupils from Otago Girls' High School, Maniototo Area School and Lawrence Area School witnessed a realistic car crash simulation to stress the importance of making ''good decisions'' when it came to cars.

The Safer Journeys Expo, which started in Dunedin on Monday and finishes today, showed more than 1600 high school pupils the reality of crashes, school community officer Sergeant John Hedges said.

A black curtain greeted about 170 pupils at the Edgar Centre yesterday morning and when a loud bang rang across the venue, some screamed in fright.

When the curtain dropped they were confronted with the sight of two crashed cars, a body lying over the bonnet of one and a teenage boy moaning in agony in the other.

It was hard-hitting, realistic and, for some, raw.

Some of the pupils cried, others felt ill, but all paid attention.

''We have got to get their attention and then we have to show them they can do something about it,'' Sgt Hedges said.

The expo, previously branded Drive to Survive, took pupils through the timeline of a car crash, from the events leading up to it to a funeral.

The pupils heard from people whose lives had been affected by crashes, which was particularly eye-opening for them.

''You can hear a pin drop [when the crash victims speak],'' Sgt Hedges said.

''These kids will be stunned in a few hours.''

Although the expo was confronting, it ''gave them not only consequences, but tools'', he said.

''Tools to get out of it.''

It was hoped, as a result of what they learnt, pupils would ''make the right call'' as to what vehicles they drove, with whom they got into cars and decisions they made on the road.

- timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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