Warwickshire policewoman receives national road safety award for her work tackling young driver crashes

15 January 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

Sharron Underwood, a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for Warwickshire Police, has received a national award recognising her contribution to tackling devastating young driver crashes through engaging young people in road safety education.

Sharron received the award for Road Safety Educator of the Year at road safety charity Brake's annual reception at the Houses of Parliament last night, sponsored by Direct Line Group (photo attached).

Sharron began her work after attending a 2young2die course run by Brake in January 2009 and has been an active ambassador for the 2young2die project ever since. The project aims to help young people keep themselves and others safe on the roads, and speaks out against dangerous driving to prevent catastrophic crashes. Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of serious road crashes: one in eight licence holders is under 25, yet one in four fatal and serious injury crashes involves a driver of this age. [1]

Over the past three years Sharron has delivered interactive workshops, seminars and one-to-one sessions to more than 1,000 students, mainly engineering apprentices at the Trident Technology and Business Centre at Warwickshire College in Leamington. Warwickshire Police have credited her with a significant decrease in the number of road collisions involving students from the college. [2]

Sharron's sergeant and inspector were so impressed with the success of her workshops that they asked her to train other Warwickshire Police Community Support Officers to deliver them, including all Safer Schools officers.

More recently, Sharron has begun to deliver one-to-one road safety sessions to young men convicted of driving offences through referral from the Youth Justice Service.

On 24 April 2013, Sharron was awarded a Chief Constable's Commendation for the dedication and commitment she has shown to young driver education, stating that her "dedication, passion and ultimate professionalism has undoubtedly contributed to road safety".

Sharron's educational road safety work goes on, as she is scheduled to deliver presentations to all new students and apprentices who attend the Trident Centre at Warwickshire College.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Sharron's contribution to tackling young driver crashes has been outstanding, and a really positive example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. Young driver crashes and the devastation and heartache they cause, not only to the young people and their families, but also to other road users involved, are one of the most serious challenges we face in road safety. Sharron has engaged an astounding number of young people through her powerful and thought-provoking workshops, working towards more responsible road use and safer streets, and we are delighted to give her this award."

PCSO Sharron Underwood said: "I am very proud to receive this award from Brake, and to be part of the 2young2die project. I am extremely passionate about engaging young people to help them protect themselves and others, and I am glad that I have been able to do something to reduce devastating road crashes and casualties. I look forward to continuing my work and helping my fellow officers at Warwickshire Police make a difference to road safety and prevent terrible tragedies."

Brake is encouraging more road safety professionals, youth workers, educators and volunteers to attend a 2young2die course on engaging young people in road safety. Places cost just £45+VAT and attendees receive a range of free tools and resources. Find out more at www.2young2die.org.uk/training.

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line Insurance Group plc
Direct Line Insurance Group plc (Direct Line Group) is headquartered in Bromley, Kent; it has operations in the UK, Germany and Italy.

Through its number of well known brands Direct Line Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include; Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege. It also offers insurance services for third party brands through its Partnerships division. In the commercial sector, its NIG and Direct Line for Business operations provide insurance products for businesses via brokers or direct respectively.

In addition to insurance services, Direct Line Group continues to provide support and reassurance to millions of UK motorists through its Green Flag breakdown recovery service and TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery and telematics business.

End notes
[1] Reported Road Accidents Involving Young Drivers 2009 (Department for Transport, 2011)
[2] Warwickshire Police, http://www.police.uk/warwickshire/wre/team/police-community-support-officer-sharron-underwood/

Tags: awards police young drivers