Father gets backing for safety campaign in memory of son

By Laura Maltby Thursday 04 October 2012 Updated: 10/10 09:02

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Campaigner Paul Kerr (left) with Tom Mullarkey from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White (front middle) and Tim Zimmerman, managing director of Peugeot UK. (s)

A FATHER who spent 20 years lobbying for government support after his son was killed in a high speed car crash has launched a ground-breaking road safety awareness campaign.

Jon-Paul Kerr was just 17 when the car he was travelling in with two friends crashed into a tree on the outskirts of Coventry.

The driver of the car had only passed his test two weeks previously.

But Jon-Paul's dad, Paul, refused to let his son's death be in vain and has been on the campaign trail ever since working for better safety on the roads.

He started by going into local schools with Warwickshire Police and sharing his experiences with children.

The 68-year-old from Warwick then wrote to David Cameron and finally, 20 years on, he has secured government support for the first ever Student Road Safety Awards.

The nationwide awards will encourage students between 11 and 18 years old to create projects which will increase road safety raise awareness among their peers.

The awards have been backed by Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond MP and the Department for Transport who will select a winning project to use as a potential road safety campaign.

Mr Kerr said: “Developing the awards has, in some ways, been my way of coping with our loss. It's been a long road to get to this point but I am very proud and grateful to have won backing from the Department for Transport and I’d like to think Jon-Paul would approve.”

On May 31, 1992 Mr Kerr's son, Jon-Paul, was enjoying the last day of half-term holiday with two friends.

They were driving along a narrow road at around 70mph when his friend missed a right-hand turn, hit the kerb and sent the car ploughing into a nearby tree.

Unfortunately, Jon-Paul was on the side of the car that hit the tree.

Last year 2000 people were killed on British roads – the equivalent of five deaths each day.

And Mr Kerr is hoping the initiative will help to bring this “unacceptable” figure down.

He said of the awards: “There have been road safety initiatives in the past but this is the first one aimed at and created by young people. It could be graffiti, a TV commercial, a film, a drama, a poem, a rap – anything really. But I refuse to let Jon-Paul's death be in vain.”

MP for Warwick and Leamington, Chris White, was in Westminster with Mr Kerr and Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond MP this week for the launch.

He said: “I am delighted to have been present for what has been a long journey for Paul. These awards something that could potentially save lives and I am confident they will go from strength to strength.”

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Jon-Paul, who was killed in a car crash aged just 17. (s)

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