Students at Farmors Secondary in Fairford found out what it’s like to be involved in a head-on car crash.

The good news – the incident was simulated through virtual reality headsets as part of the latest ‘Drive for Life’ day.

Students saw themselves as front seat passengers in a car when the simulator took them through what happens when the driver is distracted by other passengers and his mobile phone and fails to see a tractor pulling out in front. As the screen went blank, the action cut to the aftermath of the collision where emergency services battled to free survivors from the wreckage and administer treatment at the scene.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl, who opened the event, said: “We know, both from experience and scientific evidence, that young people are the most likely group to be involved in a serious crash on the roads, either as drivers or passengers. They may not find the ‘Safe and Social Driving’ message cool, but it is vitally important they get the message”.

16 VR headsets were supplied and paid-for by the PCC and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) for use in ‘Drive for Life’ days which target new and learner drivers in years 12 and 13 as part of the Police and Crime Plan’s Safe and Social Driving priority.

“‘Drive for Life’ day will teach a new generation lessons that will help protect them and make our roads safer”

‘Drive for Life’ has developed through the collaborative working of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Gloucestershire County Council, GFRS and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

“Farmor’s commitment to the safety of their students is welcome and I’m delighted this ‘Drive for Life’ day will teach a new generation lessons that will help protect them and make our roads a safer, “said Mr. Surl

Mark Astle, assistant chief fire officer at Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test, so this Drive for Life day will show students just how harrowing the impact of a collision can be.

“The simulator will show just what happens when they are distracted and we will also be carrying out a live extrication demonstration where two students will be carefully cut out of a ‘crashed’ car. We hope the advice they are given will make them aware of their responsibilities as a driver and keep them safe.”

Cllr Dave Norman, cabinet member with responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Younger drivers are the ones most likely to be involved in a crash so the ‘Drive for Life’ day is a vital way of raising awareness of the dangers of being distracted while driving. If they heed the important messages they will learn on the day it can only help their safety and that of other road users.”

“Making good, informed decisions when driving is invaluable and a vital part of  our students’ education”

Students were given time off lessons to attend. Emma White, Head of Farmors 6th Form said ‘We are delighted to be part of this initiative to promote safer driving for young people in Gloucestershire and are very grateful to all the services and volunteers who are giving up their time to make this experience as real as possible for our students.

“Although their A levels are important, making good, informed decisions when driving is invaluable and a vital part of  our students’ education. This was brilliant event when we hosted it two years ago and we look forward to an equally thought-provoking day this week”.

Members of the public will have the chance to have the same experience at the Police and OPCC open day at Police Headquarters at Waterwells 14 September. The VR headsets will also be in use at ‘Wellfest’ at Hartpury College on 19 September and at the GFRS/ SkillsZone open day on 29th September.