Giving our young people every opportunity in life is something we all hope to provide. The experiences they have develop their perspectives and skills, focus their minds, and lay the foundations for their ambitions, hopes and dreams.

Developing the skills to drive safely can open so many doors for young people and encourages them to experience and enjoy  our wonderful state with their family and friends. It also provides that amazing sense of freedom.

Freedom also brings responsibility and requires decisions to be made every time we get behind the wheel or into a car. These decisions, combined with our behaviour on the road, could save lives; our own, or our mates’.

According to a recent driver survey conducted by the RAC, young drivers in Western Australia do recognise risky behaviour on the roads, yet they still engage in this behaviour while driving.

While the impact of alcohol, speed and drugs remains real, distraction and inattention continue to be a problem for young drivers. Alarmingly, 65 per cent admitted to being distracted when having a conversation with a passenger, 44 per cent talk on mobile phones while driving, and 43 per cent read or send texts or emails.

Social media, the great communication driver for this generation, is also potentially a killer, with 20 per cent checking their accounts while sitting behind the wheel.

Our ongoing concern is the disconnect between our young drivers’ understanding of road safety and their behaviour. The attitude of “it will never happen to me” is clearly still prevalent.

The RAC will again test this attitude, and the reality of its impact, in April this year at the RAC’s bstreetsmart event.

Now in its third year, RAC bstreetsmart is a partnership between the RAC, WA Police, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, St John Ambulance and Royal Perth Hospital and will be held at Perth Arena.

More than 6,500 year 10, 11 and 12 students are expected to attend the event and witness the compelling re-enactment of a real crash scene. The re-enactment not only aims to show students how emergency services are involved at the scene of a crash, but also the impact a road trauma incident can have on all those involved.

Students will also hear from people who have been personally a ected by road trauma and have lived the frightening reality, an experience they don’t want other young people to repeat.

The RAC is focused on our next generation of drivers because they are among the most vulnerable groups on our roads. In 2012, 17 to 19 year-olds made up 4 per cent of the WA population yet were overrepresented in road deaths, comprising 7 per cent of road fatalities.

The message is clear – too many young people are dying on our roads.

Esme Bowen RAC President