Hundreds of North Coast Year 11 students last week watched a dramatisation of a car crash as part of a RRISK seminar at Southern Cross University.
Hundreds of North Coast Year 11 students last week watched a dramatisation of a car crash as part of a RRISK seminar at Southern Cross University. John Waddell

Driving home road safety

TWENTY years ago, Michael Buttenshaw made a stupid mistake.

He got drunk at Lennox Head, smoked marijuana and drove a car without a licence.

And this week, hundreds of Year 11 students from across the Northern Rivers witnessed the consequences of his regrettable actions at the RRISK (Reduce Risk Increase Student Knowledge) young driver seminar at Southern Cross University.

"I borrowed a friend's car and they told me I was too drunk to drive but I thought I was a good driver," Mr Buttenshaw said.

"I had never driven a car in my life. We were not wearing seatbelts and I lost control of the car."

Two girls travelling in the car died when he crashed that night.

He spent years moving between hospitals undergoing rehabilitation.

"I lost control of my arm and leg, I have trouble with my balance, I lost my organisation skills and I only have 40% lung capacity," he said.

Michael's speech, which he gave from his wheelchair, was aided by PowerPoint slides and had a sobering effect on the young audience, many of whom will soon get their provisional licences.

"If I could rewind time I would not be as stupid as I was," he said.

Last Tuesday afternoon, after Michael delivered his speech, he received a standing ovation from the hundreds of teenagers in the audience.

More than 35,000 people from the North Coast have participated in the RRISK program since it started 12 years ago.

On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday last week, students were invited to watch a dramatisation of a car crash at the theatre at Southern Cross University.

The actors portrayed a teenage P-plate driver involved in a crash with his friends in the car and the response from emergency services and a prosecutor.

A $20,0000 grant from NRMA funded the play's development.



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