Boy racers get crash course in road horror

20:57, Jun 13 2012
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INFERNO: A car burns fiercely in the shocking finale of an evening of demonstrations by Lincoln volunteer firefighters showing the consequences of bad driving.
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IT'S PERSONAL: Station Officer Kyle Steans tells participants what it's like to have to pick up the pieces.
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CUT FREE: Participants are freed from their "wreck" by firefighters cutting off the roof.
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POWER: One of the participants is guided through using a hydraulic cutter on a car door frame.
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THE AFTERMATH: But with a real crash, there would be more blood.
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WHAT WE DO: A participant tries the hydraulic cutter on the steering wheel.

Many things go through a firefighter's mind on the way to a vehicle crash.

The thoughts vary from the weather, the number of cars involved or whether anything at the scene will change their lives forever.

Firefighters from Lincoln's volunteer brigade this week spoke to 16 young people with driving convictions about the impact serious crashes have on them.

Firefighters
BURNOUT: Firefighters set a car on fire to teach boy racers a lesson.

The Right Track programme has run in Auckland and Hamilton for six years but this year is the first time it has been held in Canterbury.

Firefighter Kyle Steans said the 30-strong Lincoln brigade attended up to 300 incidents a year, with about a third being vehicle crashes.

"We see our fair share of carnage and everything that goes with it," Steans said.

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Seeing dead people was "probably actually the easiest thing".

"The worst-case scenario is if we get there and they're not dead; they're on these last gasping breaths," he said.

"All the guys who go on that [job] will remember that for the rest of their life."

Another firefighter, Roy Dods, said he was often not able to tell his wife about what he had seen at a crash.

"She knows when there's something wrong because you're not the same for quite a few weeks. It's not just the visual stuff – blood smells and that sticks with you."

Participant Stuart Symes, 23, was on the programme after several drink-driving convictions. "When I'm drinking I don't really care about the consequences. I'm just in it for the good time."

"Having them talk about how other people get hurt and the effect on them ... I'm lucky that hasn't happened to me, but that would be devastating for the person that caused the crash. They have to live with that for the rest of their life."

Programme director John Finch said it was the "entirety" of the programme that made a difference.

Police figures showed 83 per cent of the participants on the Right Track programme did not reoffend, and Finch had been asked by the Corrections Department to hold the programme in Canterbury again this year.

Despite the high success rate, the programme received no Government funding.

Finch said it cost about $1600 to put each participant through but it was worth it if it could change someone's dangerous-driving behaviour.

The Press