Young drivers are keeping the race in its place

A ROAD safety project for young people in Rathfriland is progressing well, according to the organisers.

Keep the Race in its Place...Lap Two is being delivered by Rathfriland Regeneration Company and the project is at the halfway stage with some 15 young drivers from the town taking part.

To date the group have met on a weekly basis with different issues discussed and topics covered.

Youth worker Brian O’Callaghan said, “We are very fortunate to be working with such a great group of young people. From day one they have been committed to the course. The level of enthusiasm and dedication shown by them is quite refreshing.

“They have shown an interest in everything and they really are a credit to their community. They are keen to learn as much about cars and safer driving as possible.”

Kathy Wilson of Rathfriland Regeneration Group said, “We have covered various topics with the young drivers, but at every opportunity we try to reinforce the overall road safety message. This is what we set out to achieve from the beginning.

“As a group we have enjoyed presentations from Driving Change and REACT drugs and alcohol awareness group. We have watched various dvds produced locally which carry very strong messages. The young people have then engaged in group discussion and that is usually very interesting.”

Another element of the initiative was spending two nights with local mechanic Ben Graham who specialises in body repair work.

Brian O’Callaghan said, “We spent two nights out at the garage and I must thank Ben for his effort and enthusiasm. He spoke to the young people about how to customise their cars safely, and highlighted the dangers of cutting springs - a major problem with many young drivers.

“Ben was working on two damaged cars and the young people were able to see what happens when airbags are deployed on impact. They also enjoyed looking at an Aston Martin DB9 which was in the workshop.”

With three more group sessions to complete, the organisers are delighted at the progress to date.

Kathy Wilson said, “We really didn’t know how the scheme was going to develop as this was something very new. However, the young drivers have fully embraced everything we have organised. With an almost 100 per cent attendance rate, we have been hugely impressed with their level of committment and their willingness to participate.

“There is a big demand for this type of youth work in the area and Rathfriland Regen Group would love to extend the programme in the coming months and work with other young people. This was very much an experiment, but we have been encouraged to continue working in whatever way we can with young drivers.”