Posted: Wed 1st Mar 2023

Debate on young driver black boxes ignited by powerful ‘Olivia’s Story’ film at Senedd

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Mar 1st, 2023

Olivia Alkir’s story was shared with lawmakers, road safety campaigners, the emergency services, and insurance industry representatives at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday.

The film, entitled “Olivia’s Story,” tells the tragic events surrounding the death of 17-year-old Olivia from Ruthin, who was killed in June 2019 following a collision caused by two young drivers racing.

The film features her family, friends, and schoolteachers and has been used in schools to encourage road safety.

The aim of the event was to raise awareness of the dangers of poor driving among young people and to encourage the fitting of black boxes in cars to monitor driving skills.

It was organised by the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Andy Dunbobbin, and was sponsored by North Wales regional Senedd Member Carolyn Thomas MS.

Olivia’s mum Jo Alkir and Deputy Chair of the Police and Crime Panel and Ruthin resident Pat Astbury were also present to support the campaign.

During the event, the film was shown to guests, followed by a discussion on how Welsh government, local government and industry can work together to make roads safer for young people.

Jo Alkir is campaigning for a black box to be fitted to every young person’s car to monitor driving and prevent further tragedies like Olivia’s.

A black box is a small GPS tracking device installed in a driver’s car that can monitor their driving skills, such as how fast they drive, miles driven, breaks taken on a journey, and how they brake and control their car.

The information gathered via the black box can be used by an insurer to provide a telematics insurance policy. From this information, the insurer can give the driver a score for their driving.

This can then affect how much they pay for their car insurance policy.

Such a device ideally encourages drivers to drive more safely and can help keep young people safe on the road.

The power to legislate to make black boxes compulsory lies with the UK Government, but the event at the Senedd was a way of sharing the message throughout Wales and building momentum for change.

“Olivia’s Story” was premiered at the end of March 2022, and since then, the lessons are being delivered in all secondary schools in North Wales, and the film is being made available nationally via SchoolBeat.

The target audience for the project, from the start, has been 14-20-year-olds within educational settings and colleges.

Olivia’s mother, Jo Alkir, stated, “I am determined to see change happen and to get a black box fitted in all new drivers’ cars, so that what happened to Olivia doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The event at the Senedd was a way to raise further national awareness of the film and campaign for black boxes to be fitted in the cars of new drivers.

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki, North Wales Police, said, “The aim of Olivia’s Story is to help educate young people about the importance of staying safe on the road.”

“New or pre-drivers are the target audience, it aims to help them be aware of their responsibilities and of the devastating consequences that can occur.”

Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, said: “Road safety is a hugely important issue for our young people and it was an honour to join Jo Alkir at the Senedd to share Olivia’s Story and to call on Welsh Government to join our campaign for black boxes to be fitted in the cars of new drivers.”

“Welsh Government have already shown their commitment to road safety through measures such as the forthcoming 20mph speed limit rule.”

“While making the fitting of black boxes compulsory is a power that lies with the UK Government, it’s hugely important we have these conversations in Wales and with Welsh Government.”

“We need to create a groundswell of support locally to bring about change nationally.”

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