Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler backs initiative to educate young drivers about road safety

In 2020, there were 15 deaths and 355 serious injuries on the roads across the Merseyside region.

<p>Paul Mountford from the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, Robbie Fowler, competition winner Billy Eaglestone and Stuart Rigby from The Driving Academy. Credit: Dan Bently Photography</p>

Paul Mountford from the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, Robbie Fowler, competition winner Billy Eaglestone and Stuart Rigby from The Driving Academy. Credit: Dan Bently Photography

Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has supported a campaign encouraging road safety awareness amongst young drivers.

In 2020, there were 15 deaths and 355 serious injuries on the roads across the Merseyside region.

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This year the World Health Organisation reported that road traffic injury is the leading cause of death globally for children and young people between five and 29.

Fowler, who has four children between the ages of 15 and 22, said: “It is so important that young people are taught how to drive properly.

“It’s not just a case of going through the gears, there are so many other factors like looking out for other drivers, cyclists, pedestrians.

“There is also the temptation to get distracted by loud music, mobile phones - whether it’s receiving a call, through social media or even using them for Sat Nav if they are driving an older car.”

The RAC Report on Motoring 2020 revealed that nearly one in five drivers aged 17-24 admitted to video calling while driving.

Fowler has been involved in highlighting road safety before and in 2018 he wrote a letter of condolence to the parents of 25-year-old Niall O’Hanlon, a Liverpool supporter from Northern Ireland who was killed in a road crash.

Earlier this year the former footballer returned to the UK from India where he was head coach of Indian Super League club East Bengal.

He said the players he managed regularly witnessed the tragic consequences road crashes.

The road safety initiative

Fowler met with representatives from RoadPeace, the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership (MRSP) and The Driving Academy at Melwood, which is now used by the Robbie Fowler Education and Football Academy (FEFA).

There has been a spate of serious road crashes across the Liverpool City Region recently.

Billy Eaglestone, 18, a second-year student at the FEFA, won a competition about road safety with a prize of driving lessons from The Driving Academy, a Liverpool-based driving school.

The competition for FEFA students was run by RoadPeace, the national road crash victims charity and Engage, an initiative of MRSP to equip young drivers with the skills and knowledge they need to be safe on the roads.

Paul Mountford from the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, Robbie Fowler, competition winner Billy Eaglestone and Stuart Rigby from The Driving Academy. Credit: Dan Bently Photography

Competition winner

The competition winner will be taught by a specialist Engage driving instructor who works for The Driving Academy.

Billy, who wants to become a PE instructor, said: “I’m so thankful for this opportunity to learn how to drive with a skilled instructor. People of my age need to know how to keep safe on the roads.”

Billy will be writing a blog about his driving lessons so he can share his experiences with other young people.

Participants had to answer a series of road safety questions set by MRSP.

What is RoadPeace?

RoadPeace exists to support people whose lives have been tragically affected by road crashes, and to campaign to improve the systematic response to crashes in the UK.

Over the past 26 years more than 16,000 people have been killed and seriously injured on the roads of Merseyside.

RoadPeace Trustee and local North West Coordinator Pauline Fielding said: “We are really grateful to Robbie for getting behind such an important initiative to make young people aware about road safety.

“We hope through this competition, Billy will not only be safer on the roads, but can be an example to other young drivers about how to act responsibly when behind the wheel of a car.” ‘

‘Better level of education’ needed for novice drivers

Paul Mountford, Casualty Reduction Officer, from the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership said: “We recognise the important role that driving instructors and sportsmen and women can play in the education of young, novice drivers and the need for a better level of education on issues that can potentially cause serious injury and death on our roads.

“These are often not discussed during driving lessons and that’s why we recommend our Engage programme for novice drivers and instructors alike.”

Driving school delight

Stuart Rigby, from The Driving Academy said: “We are thrilled to be able to participate with RoadPeace, MRSP, the Robbie Fowler Education and Football Academy and the LFC Foundation, to bring the importance of road safety to the forefront of everyone taking part.

“Road safety is an ongoing concern for us and we endeavour to teach every single one of our learners to the safest, highest standards.”