A team of Fixers in Magherafelt will feature on UTV Live tonight in a bid to urge young people to wise-up to road safety with road accidents taking the life of a young person every 22 days in Northern Ireland.
Fixer Joanne Evans, 20, from Aughnacloy, who lost her cousin to a car accident at the age of 15, just before Christmas in 2012 will together with friend Michael Bradley is leading a team, urging young people to be safer on the road.
Working with Fixers, a charity which supports 16 to 25 year olds to ‘fix’ the future, the team have created a pledge and will be urging young people to sign it at the Cool FM Road Safe Road Show in Magherafelt this Autumn.
Joanne, who was close to her cousin, while Michael was her best friend talk about their shock when they heard the news of her tragic death.
Joanne said: “Me and my cousin were very close, she was more like my little sister because I’m an only child.”
“When I first found out it was devastating, it really hit home. Losing her made me more aware of road safety in general, especially with young people on the roads.”
Michael said: “We were best friends from a young age, around eight. We were like brother and sister.
“It’s just so hard, it’s like an emptiness. It’s hard to explain in words, really, knowing that you’ll never see her again.”
The pair met through a youth club in Magherafelt. After their loss, the youth club members became more aware of road safety issues and more determined to raise greater understanding of it amongst young people.
Working as a team, they came up with the idea of creating a pledge, to act as a young person’s code of conduct on the road.
Joanne said: “I got together with my cousin’s friends from Magherafelt and Fixers are helping us on creating a pledge for road safety. It will be like a code of conduct for the road for young drivers to stick to.”
The team met with Chief Inspector Sam Donaldson, Magherafelt Area Commander for the PSNI. He supports the project and feels the voice of young people will be more effective in getting such an important message across.
He said: “The message to get across to young people is much better coming from young people.”
“If these Fixers are taking messages out which say ‘slow down on the roads’, ‘be careful as a driver, be careful as a passenger,’ it becomes a much stronger message for fellow young people.”
The Fixers hope that their pledge is signed by as many young people as possible, but more importantly, leaves an important message with them that road safety should be taken seriously and can save lives.
Michael said: “I want young people to become more aware that driving can be dangerous. A simple accident can affect not just your life but everyone’s life around you, including friends and family.”
Joanne said: “I hope that people who sign the pledge will maybe be more aware of things that will affect their lives if they don’t take precautions on the road.
“If at least one person comes away with a better mind-set and it saves them the heartache that my family and friends have had to go through it would be brilliant.”
The programme will feature on UTV Live tonight at 6pm.