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Issue No. 412 April 2017

Crash Bash gets message across

Constable Shane Thomson on stage during a Crash Bash presentation.
Photo: Senior Constable Catherine Weir, Canterbury District

Road safety is close to Constable Shane Thomson’s heart – and he had the strongest motivation as he spoke to more than 20,000 teenagers over six weeks about staying safe on the road.

Shane, of Canterbury Road Policing, took part in Crash Bash, a programme run by Christchurch City Council in collaboration with Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency to reduce the number of young drivers at fault in crashes.

Ten years ago he was a volunteer firefighter called to a crash scene where he found his toddler niece gravely injured and his sister trapped. Their car was hit head-on by a vehicle driven by a distracted teenager. His niece was permanently disabled.

The experience inspired Shane to join Police. “That’s why I’ve got such passion for road policing, especially with kids at schools,” he says.

“I try to get the message to learners and new drivers to drive safe and hopefully prevent this happening to anyone else.”

This year Crash Bash involved more than 40 shows at 33 high schools, reaching a record number of young people.

In its 22nd year the programme has been redesigned, moving from emphasising tragic outcomes to a focus on every-day driving issues such as cornering, stopping, following distances and distractions.

It toured as a stage performance – produced by Christchurch’s Court Theatre – in which students watched their peers tackle driving skills tests and participated in role play.

“For students, watching how easily their peers can get distracted is a really relatable way to influence their driving behaviour,” says Shane.

Crash Bash is looking for a new name, with prizes to be won. See crashbash.co.nz for more details.

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