Autoline’s Car Crash Simulator. Photo Source: QUBSU. 

Gráinne Ní Ghréacháin, Editor.

Autoline Insurance, one of the fastest growing financial service companies in Northern Ireland, recently spoke with The Gown Newspaper to discuss their efforts in spreading an important message of road safety to students across the province. This year, Autoline brought their ChilliDrive car crash stimulator to Queen’s Freshers Fair.

Evanna Kieran of Autoline Insurance Group spoke with The Gown explaining that the company often attend freshers’events but that this was their first experience at Queen’s University. This gave QUB students the opportunity to experience one of Northern Ireland’s most innovative and engaging road safety initiatives.

The state-of-the-art car crash simulator aims to educate young people on the real life consequences of dangerous driving and has been impacting pupils in schools, colleges and universities across Northern Ireland for the past 5 years.

From the exterior, this Ford Focus ST looks a regular hatchback, however upon inspection, the interior is quite unusual. When seated, the car creates the illusion of a real-life crash experience using smoke machines, speakers, lights, hydraulics and in-car screens in front of you. The whole experience is a recreation of a real life fatal crash incident that led to a 17-year old driver being sentenced to prison.

Evanna explained that they hope to target younger people, specifically those new to the road or learning to drive, to ensure that they are aware of the dangers they face on the roads, especially when using mobile phones or becoming distracted behind the wheel which is demonstrated by the simulator experience. So far, over 6,000 new and soon-to-be drivers have benefited from the programme.

The programme is facilitated by Tracey Doherty, a former PSNI Traffic Branch Officer of over 30 years’ experience. Tracey is a key contributor with a wealth of experience both at the scene of accidents and dealing with the families of victims of road traffic collisions.

The simulator ties in with the ChilliDrive app, which is an award-winning road safety app developed by Autoline, which can help young drivers to improve their quality of driving while also reducing their insurance premiums, which are typically high for young drivers. Telematics technology is used to monitor the driving habits of users and rate drivers on a scale of 1-5 for each recorded trip.

PSNI statistics show that 68 people died on Northern Ireland’s roads in 2016. Almost 30% of those killed were under 25-years old and 3 of the total fatalities were in the Belfast City area.

Suzanne Curtis, Autoline Insurance Group’s Marketing Manager, said:

“As a local insurance broker, we’re passionate about working with communities to make our roads safer and getting alongside younger drivers to tackle issues relevant to them.

“Our ‘Respect the Road’ campaign is part of a wider effort to educate young drivers, stamp out bad habits and help improve the standard of driving. We believe this will lead to less accidents and create a safer environment for everyone on the roads.

“We are especially proud of our ChilliDrive app which is having a positive impact on its users. On average over a six-month period, the number of dangerous driving incidents recorded by the app fell by almost 20% as drivers improved their driving habits. There was also a reduction of over 50% in the average value of claims made by drivers aged 17-21.”

For further information about how your school or organisation can participate in the ‘Respect The Road’ programme, please contact Evanna Kieran at Autoline Insurance Group on 028 3025 9011.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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