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COLLEGE students were left stunned yesterday when they witnessed the effects of antisocial driving at an event to mark the end of a community safety campaign in Bolton.
Around 100 students from Bolton College took part in workshops with firefighters, police officers and community safety staff before joining guests and dignitaries to watch crews cut 'casualties' out of an overturned car.
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The event at Bolton Central Fire Station was the culmination of months of community work, events and campaigning to help reduce antisocial driving in the town following a number of serious accidents.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), Bolton Council of Mosques (BCoM), Greater Manchester Police and Bolton Council teamed up for the campaign around six months ago - thanks to funding from the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner.
Since then, the agencies have carried out a series of events at mosques across Bolton to spread the message of safe driving and highlight the devastating consequences of racing and antisocial driving.
At yesterday's event, students and dignitaries tried out GMFRS' driving simulator and firefighters gave a dramatic demonstration of how they cut someone out of a car.
The demo was made even more realistic by Bolton College students who acted as casualties with faked injuries created by the college's make-up department.
Salman Khan, aged 19, a business student at the college, said: "As a young driver, I found the workshop in college a real eye-opener.
"Before I took part in the event I have to admit I never wore my seatbelt, however, as soon as I left college and got in my car the first thing I did was put my seatbelt on and asked my friends to do the same.
"When the police Family Liaison Officer spoke to our group, he made me realise that his job isn't for everyone and I never want him to be knocking on my parents' door."
In July last year, 11 people were injured when three cars collided in St Helen's Road, Daubhill.
Then in August, two cars collided in Blackburn Road, Astley Bridge, resulting in a 14-year-old boy and a 26-year-old man being taken to hospital. Five other people suffered minor injuries.
The campaign has been supported by a local freelance journalist who was at the scene of the St Helen's Road collision and has worked with the agencies to engage with hard-to-reach communities and produce a video for the students.
Bolton Borough Manager Ian Bailey said: "This campaign was a multi-agency response to concerns raised by local people about antisocial driving and it's shown that when you give the community ownership of something it has much more of an impact.
"The event was absolutely brilliant and it was really well attended. The students were really engaged in the workshops and asked firefighters and police officers lots of questions."
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Jim Battle, said: "Road safety is an extremely important issue for everyone in Greater Manchester, particularly young people.
"The reality is that we all have a role to play to make our roads safer, whether we are behind the wheel, on a bicycle or responsible for enforcing traffic laws, and we all need to work together and engage with young people to improve safety on our roads.
"By working together with organisations in the community such as the Bolton Council of Mosques, we can raise awareness of the importance of behaving responsibly on the roads, and educate people of all ages on the dangers associated with failing to do so.
"Ultimately, what we want to see here is a decrease in racing and antisocial driving among young people and improved road safety for the whole community."