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Creating change . . . Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD) representatives from Waitaki Boys' High School, Waitaki Girls' High School and St Kevin's College show off the signs they designed and printed to spread messages about the issue of distracted driving. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Pupils from Oamaru’s three secondary schools have come together to inspire change.

Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD) members from St Kevin’s College and Waitaki Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools have designed and printed billboards to spread messages about the issue of distracted driving .

The three signs were officially unveiled on Tuesday, during national Road Safety Week. They will be displayed on rotation in a frame outside the Oamaru Police Station.

Waitaki Girls’ High School teacher in charge of SADD Jenny Corlet said the project started last year, after two Oamaru teenagers were killed in a single-vehicle crash.

“Students involved in SADD last year got together and they wanted to put out a positive message from young people,” Mrs Corlet said.

“They decided distractions’ was going to be the theme, or one of the principles of SADD, they wanted to promote.”

St Kevin’s College SADD representative Sun Yi Tao (16) said it was inspiring to see pupils from each school work together towards a common goal.

“I know it’s also been a really hard year for everyone, with Covid and all, so it’s quite inspiring to see everyone working so hard for this kind of thing,” he said.

He hoped the three schools could work together on more community projects next year.

Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said the messages SADD members had come up with were “spot on”.

In 2019, driver distraction was a contributing factor in 10 fatal crashes, 133 serious injury crashes and 918 minor injury crashes across the country. For the younger generation, the “constant attachment” to mobile phones was a problem, Sgt Wilkinson said.

The signs, designed by Elizabeth Fountaine (Waitaki Girls’ High School), Georgina Houston (St Kevin’s College) and Harry Wilson (Waitaki Boys’ High School), would “definitely” change some drivers’ behaviour, he said.

“You’re never going to see a pie chart telling you how many lives you’ve saved, but it’s very safe to assume your actions have contributed to reducing serious crashes on our roads, and for that you can feel quite proud.”

SADD South Island programme delivery lead Lydia Newlands said she was impressed by the way the three Oamaru schools had worked together to create change.

She was looking forward to showcasing the Waitaki school pupils’ work at other schools in the South Island.

“I hope you’re really proud of yourselves and I hope you guys can go away knowing you’ve actually made a difference in this road safety space,” Mrs Newlands told the pupils.

SADD members raised money for the signs through a barbecue. The project was also supported by Blue Light, the Oamaru police, Streeter Concepts, and the Waitaki District Council.