Senior Firefighter Kate Faith, from Fire and Rescue NSW's (FRNSW) community engagement unit said Australia's largest road safety event, bstreetsmart, details what can happen to young drivers if they take dangerous risks.
"It could cost lives or result in a criminal conviction that stays on their driving record for life," she said.
"You can see it getting through to a lot of these kids...they get confronted with a really graphic show but it's an accurate representation of what actually happens at car crashes.
"We explain to them, it's not a car accident, it's a crash...because it's always the result of someone doing the wrong thing or not doing something they should have."
More than 20,000 NSW students in years 10 to 12 from 195 schools attended the event at Qudos Bank Arena across three days on August 2,3 and 4. Students experienced the impact of road trauma through real-life simulated crash scenarios, interactive displays, a theatre sports performance, powerful presentations from survivors, and personal accounts from family members of people killed in crashes.
Bstreetsmart was founded in 2005 by Westmead Hospital trauma nurses Julie Seggie and Stephanie Wilson. Ms Seggie said she hopes the event will help reduce the number of young people involved in crashes on our roads. Young people aged 17-25 represent about 20 per cent of drivers killed annually on NSW roads, but only make-up about 15 per cent of licence holders.
"Driver distractions such as mobile phones, conversations and loud music play a large role in many of the incidents we see in the emergency department," Ms Seggie said.
"Bstreetsmart is a confronting yet effective way of demonstrating the possible consequences of being distracted as a driver."
This year's event brought FRNSW crews, NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, State Emergency Service and other first responders together to promote safe road behaviour by young drivers and help reduce fatalities and serious injuries among young people. Between 2016 and 2020, 165 young drivers aged 17-25 died on NSW roads and about 2719 were seriously injured.
Senior Firefighter Faith said after hearing from emergency workers, crash survivors and the loved ones of victims, the teenagers witnessed a very realistic, simulated impact.
"A teen in the car takes their seatbelt off for a second to show a mobile phone text to the driver," she said.
"That second is all it takes for something to go wrong and the vehicle hits a power pole, throwing the passenger through the front windscreen. It's a powerful message but the young people leave the program understanding the dangers much more clearly.
"We teach them that firefighters and others who have to attend those crashes can also be traumatised as a result of a reckless action."
Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward said education is one of the best ways to prevent deaths and injuries among young people on the road, with the number of young drivers killed on NSW roads having halved since the introduction of the Graduated Licensing Scheme in 2000.
"That is why the NSW Government is proud to support initiatives like bstreetsmart, to help educate young people about the serious consequences of speeding, drink and drug driving, mobile phone use, fatigue and distraction, which are all major factors in road trauma for young people," she said.
Since 2015, bstreetsmart has received more than $1 million in support from Transport for NSW.
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