Teens work to keep drivers safe

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012

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Two Taranaki teens are vying for top jobs with a national organisation battling drunk driving.

Erin Tate, 16, of Inglewood High School, and Brad Clarke, 17, of Waitara High have both been shortlisted for national roles with Students Against Drunk Driving (Sadd).

The pair, who have both been involved with Sadd for two years, said New Zealand had a bad record with drunk driving and they wanted to make a difference.

"It means we can try to fix the picture on a national scale," Brad said.

"I thought it would be something that would be really cool to get involved with at our school."

Sadd holds lectures and runs programmes and activities at schools throughout Taranaki.

Erin said Kiwis had a "sweet as, she'll be right" attitude to drunk driving which needed to change.

"If you crash a car into somebody else it's more than likely not going to be sweet as."

She said a lecture given by an intensive care paramedic to students at the school, which included a graphic slide show, grabbed their attention.

"It was a shock; you could hear them as each picture came on, just gasping.

"At first people were laughing but by the end the whole hall was just silent."

Erin was pleased when the alcohol level for drivers under 20 was reduced to zero but wanted to see stiffer penalties for drivers who broke the rules.

"It needs to be made harsher because the punishment isn't making them think about what they've done any more," she said.

While Sadd has a big presence at Waitara High, with 30 students wanting to sign up this year, Erin said the response from Inglewood had been disappointing.

"It was sad because they just think it's a big joke, but we are actually just trying to save people's lives," she said.

"What they don't realise is it could be any one of them. Seven hundred teenagers have died on New Zealand's roads in the last 10 years - that's about double the roll at Inglewood High."

Brad said Sadd was about more than just drunk driving and the group also wanted to address people driving without licences and on drugs. "We are trying to stop accidents before they happen."

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