Car insurance one of the main talking points for Rathfriland event

CRIPPLING car insurance for young drivers is one of the big issues that will be highlighted at tonight’s (Wednesday) Keep The Race In Its Place... Lap 2 event in Rathfriland.

Organisers are hoping for a great turn out at the event, being held at the Enterprise Centre, Downpatrick Street at 8pm.

Dozens of customised cars will be on display as well as many trade and information stands, giving young drivers plenty of information.

Hosting the event is Rathfriland Regeneration Company who have secured a grant of £10,000 to deliver road safety initiatives in the town.

Keep The Race In Its Place - Lap Two will follow on from the hugely successful event held at the town’s community centre earlier this year.

The project is being co-ordinated by the Rathfriland Regeneration Company in conjunction with DoE and assisted by the local PSNI, Fire and Rescue Service, Driving Change, and various other health based initiatives.

Rathfriland Regen chairman Dr John Shannon explained, “Boy racing and anti-social driving is something that has been been talked about for as long as I care to remember. We realise that many young people in the Rathfriland area are passionate about their cars. They take huge pride in their cars and that is commendable.

“However, we are using this opportunity to remind young drivers of the overall safety message. We want to get the message across that there is a time and a place for racing and its not on the streets of Rathfriland. I have been meeting with many young drivers recently and they often get a bad press. They are normal down to earth individuals who happen to love their cars and spend all their spare time and vast amounts of money doing them up.

“The aim of this project is not to run them down with negative comments, but engage with young drivers and see things from their perspective. The cost for a young driver to get insurance is colossal. Rathfriland Regen want to do what they can to help young drivers and along the way, emphasise the important message of road safety.

Dr Shannon explained that the launch event will take place in one of the vacant units at the Enterprise Centre Rathfriland and will be very informal and a fun-filled night. He said, “There will be refreshments laid on for everyone and we will have various cars on display, trade stands, driving simulators, a wet-braking display and representatives from different organisations. Ideally we want the young people to give us some ideas on the night as to how they could benefit from any projects.

After the launch event, it is hoped to run a series of courses and workshops. These will include a valeting course, mechanicing, car modification, drugs and alcohol awareness, winter car maintenance and much more.

At the end of the programme those who took part will be treated to a day go-karting an off-road rallying.

Local MLA John McCallister, who is involved in the project, said, “I was really impressed with the PSNI event held last summer and I think it is great that the Regen group are following this on. We all appreciate the fact it will be impossible to solve the problem of anti-social driving overnight. But if this £10,000 project makes an impact on just one young person and prevents that family going through the heartbreak scenario I have seen all too often in this area, then it will be money well spent.

“I also urge as many young people as possible to come along and hear what is on offer. This is a superb project and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it has on the Rathfriland community.”