Student film highlights the dangers of mobile distractions for young road users in Notts

A new film produced with students at West Notts College is being released to remind their peers of the dangers that distractions such as earphones, smart phones and tablets can cause on or near roads.

The short film titled Get the Message, was sponsored by the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB), and created in partnership with the Nottinghamshire County Council Youth Arts, and drama and video production professionals. The video is was first shown at The Old Library Festival of Arts (Tolfest) at the Old Library in Mansfield on Tuesday 1 June, alongside other works of drama and film created by local young people.

The project started as a result of the NSCB identifying the need for greater awareness of the dangers of various distractions in relation to young people crossing roads. The video aimed to target 14-17 year olds as there had been 48 serious injuries and 5 fatalities from this age group, between 2009-2012, as pedestrians or cyclists across Nottinghamshire. Young people often become distracted by the use of technology, mobile phones or the use of headphones, meaning that they do not give the road their full attention. The film tackles this issue, from the point of view of this age group.

Beth Smith, 18, is a student from West Notts College, who was involved in the video said:

“It’s really exciting and motivating to work on a project like this. We all know how we’d feel if someone we were friends with got badly injured or even killed as a result of a road accident. If our film makes someone think twice, that would be fantastic. “It was exciting to work on a live project with Nottinghamshire County Council and use our professional skills on the film. We had to be aware of striking the right balance between making an awareness video that has impact, but to also be aware of the sensitivity of the subject and making it suitable for a young audience.” Steve Baumber, Business Manager for the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board explained the background:

“Rather than coming from us, we wanted to create something from young people that spoke directly to their peers, so we spent a lot of time with groups of students talking to them about what kind of messages would really get through to them. From there, we were able to support the West Notts College students in coming up with a creative idea, and seeing it through to completion.”

Nottinghamshire County Council has just published a new strategy aimed at reducing the number of avoidable accidents experienced by children and young people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Reducing Avoidable Injuries in Children and Young People: A Strategy for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire 2014-2020 will initially prioritise reducing the number of ‘accidents’ that young people suffer on roads, as well as reducing injuries in the home amongst nought to five year olds.

Following many years of an established programme of road safety education, training and publicity, in 2013 road casualties involving children (aged 0-15) showed a 44% reduction compared to the baseline figures, provided by the average for years 2005-2009. However there were a total of 190 casualties in Nottinghamshire which included 1 fatality and 27 serious injuries.

Councillor Joyce Bosnjak, chair of the Nottinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board said:

“There’s increasing evidence nationally that young people using smart mobile phones for tweeting, checking Facebook and playing games could be responsible for children suffering road traffic accidents. The video from the West Notts College students is great for highlighting this really important issue amongst their peers.

“A major part of our new avoidable injuries strategy is looking at reducing the number of accidents that happen on the road to our young people, so this kind of awareness is really valuable alongside the practical things we can do like continuing to roll out 20mph zones around schools, and encouraging all partners to work together on this issue.”