SafeWise, the award winning interactive safety education charity which runs safety centres in Bournemouth and Weymouth, has broken new ground in opening RoadWise – the UK’s first life-sized outdoor road safety village.
HRH The Princess Royal today opened the RoadWise outdoor road safety centre in Weymouth. She was welcomed by H.M. Lord-Lieutenant and SafeWise Patron Angus Campbell who introduced to a number of civic dignitaries including the High Sheriff of Dorset and SafeWise Patron, Jennifer Coombs; Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, Councillor Christine James; Chief Executive West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland, Matt Prosser; Police and Crime Commissioner and SafeWise trustee, Martyn Underhill; Chief Constable, Debbie Simpson; Chairman of Dorset Fire Authority, Councillor Rebecca Knox; Chief Fire Officer and SafeWise trustee, Darran Gunter; and Chairman of SafeWise, Geoff Warde. The Princess Royal then took a tour of the exciting new facilities with SafeWise Chief Executive Alison Shelton and centre manager Vikki Thomas. The Princess Royal met with local school children from Conifers Primary School who demonstrated pedestrian and driving skills. She also spoke with members of Dorset Fire and Rescue Service Red Watch, trustees, sponsors, volunteers, staff and builders who have all contributed to the development of this unique facility. The Princess Royal then made a short speech before unveiling a commemorative stone to mark the opening of the RoadWise scheme. After signing the visitors book she was presented with a posy by Lewis Gunn aged 11years.
Alison Shelton BEM, Chief Executive of SafeWise said “We are delighted that HRH The Princess Royal has officially opened RoadWise on her busy day in the county. After several years in the making, the vision of an outdoor road safety centre at SafeWise in Weymouth has finally become a reality. RoadWise is a unique facility and to think it has been completed in less than 10 months is an incredible achievement.”
Following on the success of the SafeWise charity’s LV=Streetwise safety centre in Bournemouth, RoadWise brings full-scale interactive road safety education to life in a safe, controlled and memorable environment. RoadWise’s 3,000 square metre road circuit contains working pedestrian and zebra crossings, a mini roundabout, one-way streets, T-junctions, a yellow box junction and battery operated mini cars that will help children to better understand the risks and consequences of being both a pedestrian and a driver on the roads. As a training environment it will help to reduce casualties on the roads by delivering the sustainable changes in behaviour required to make the roads safer.
The financial cost to society of each accidental road death is more than £1.9million#.
For the families involved the loss is immeasurable.
# Department for Transport: Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report
RoadWise has been overwhelmed by the supportive community spirit displayed by public bodies, people and businesses across the Weymouth and Dorset communities, all wanting to help save lives and prevent needless tragedies on the roads. Special thanks go to Dorset Fire Authority, Dorset Fire & Rescue Service, Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, Dorset Police, Dorset County Council, Siemens, SSE Contracting, Network Rail and a whole host of other supportive organisations including Morgan Sindall, Synergy Housing, Bournemouth White Lining, South Western Scaffolding, Swift Signs, Kingston Maurward College and Sherborne Turf.
Darran Gunter, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer and SafeWise trustee said, “Dorset Fire and Rescue Service is a key supporter of SafeWise and of course committed to the continued development of our fantastic community and education facilities at SafeWise in Weymouth. The new RoadWise facility complements our existing learning experiences and provides a key part of our multi-agency road safety education strategy. We are committed to work with our partners to reduce the number of collisions on our roads and believe this innovative centre provides a valuable resource in educating and saving lives.”
Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and SafeWise trustee said “The Chief Constable and I were really keen to get involved in this multi-agency approach, there is no doubt that policing needs to help educate as well enforce on road safety. Dorset Police are proud to have contributed funding to the centre in 2014. The outdoor road safety centre is a fantastic way to educate people about safety on the roads; RoadWise will help to tackle behaviour that increases the risk of accidents on our roads. It’s exciting, innovative and unique and I am really honoured to be part of it.”
Mayor of Weymouth & Portland, Cllr Christine James said, “Exciting times are ahead as at last road safety is driven into the 21st century. As a driving instructor and the Mayor I’m very excited about centre as well as keen to make sure that road safety becomes part of the everyday learning of our children.”
Horticulture Tutor Herve LeReverend said: “Kingston Maurward College is delighted to be part of the RoadWise development at SafeWise. We are very proud of our horticulture and construction students and tutors. They have used the skills learnt at college to create lawns, patio areas, road verges and a variety of planting designs to create the country lanes and a town centre representative of our community. This has been a great experience for our student teams to work to plans and deadlines for such a high profile project. We hope those who visit will enjoy their creations and that it will also help other young people understand more about the wide range of skills they could achieve by studying towards a career in these growing industries.”
The centre includes a blue light training area with facilities for the centre’s emergency service partners. Fire crews, paramedics and police can simulate real life scenarios such as rescuing people from cars and rescues from underground chambers. In the next phase, it is hoped that a railway line with a mock platform and a level crossing, also enabling rescues from heights, will enhance and complement the learning opportunities.