The calm spring evening on Peel promenade may have been the last place you would have expected to hear squealing tyres and screeching brakes, but that’s what echoed around Peel bay last Friday during the latest Manx Motor Meet.
Teenagers and young drivers were welcomed to sit in with a rally driver and he took them through a series of sharp handbrake turns and controlled drifts, and then to chat afterwards to find out how to control cars expertly and safely.
They were taken out in a rally car, to show how the specialist controls and advanced braking helps, and then in a standard road car, which showed how easily they could lose control on the roads.
‘We’ve got the auto test, run by Manx Autosport,’ said Voirrey Kennaugh, from the government’s youth services. ‘These guys are allowing the youngsters to get into the cars and to show them it can be fun, but at a slow speed, and that if they really want to do this kind of thing, they should really do it as an organised sport, rather than out on an open road.’
The Department of Infrastructure’s road safety team also gave advice on how to look after cars and how to stay safe on the roads. There was even a chance to experience what it is like to control a car under the effects of alcohol.
Special goggles gave the teenagers the impression of double vision, and then they were asked to park a remote control car.
Also on hand were the Peel fire crew, who provided a graphic demonstration of cutting a person from a damaged car.
The Manx Motor Meet events are a joint initiative, organised by government youth services, Manx Autosports, the road safety unit and the police among many others.
‘The idea is for people to have a bit of fun, learn about motor sport, learn about cars and to learn how to be safe. That’s the key thing,’ said Gordon Edwards, road safety manager with the DoI.
Police sergeant Wendy Barker said the meeting was a fun initiative to highlight a serious issue. The recent spate of tragic incidents on the Manx roads, many resulting in the deaths of young drivers, or the occupants of their cars, led many to rethink the way they approached road safety.
‘We’re trying to promote responsible driving in particular with young drivers,’ said Sgt Barker. ‘That was a direct result of some of the tragic road deaths we had last year. We had a good look at how the education was being done and we felt that it was maybe worthwhile coming out onto the streets to try to speak to the kids in their domain. ’
The meetings are a response to feedback from teenagers after Wendy asked the young drivers themselves what they thought would help them learn about road safety.
‘The young people themselves have identified that perhaps there should be more conditions on the R plates,’ she said. ‘Also perhaps there should be more opportunity if you’ve passed your test in summer but not driven in winter conditions, that there should be somewhere you could go where you could learn about that.’