Lessons learnt from road death of Simonstone student (18)

Matthew Alston's parents, Andrew and Janet Alston (left), pictured with Rhiannon Leeds, Safer Travel Adviser at Lancashire County Council, receiving their award from Richard Manock, chairman of the North Western branch of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (right).
Matthew Alston's parents, Andrew and Janet Alston (left), pictured with Rhiannon Leeds, Safer Travel Adviser at Lancashire County Council, receiving their award from Richard Manock, chairman of the North Western branch of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (right).

A project launched in memory of a Simonstone teenager killed in a tragic car accident three years ago has been commended by the North West Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation at its annual awards ceremony.

The Matthew Alston Project was set up in 2011 after the 18-year-old Clitheroe Royal Grammar School student died in a car crash the morning after he had been drinking.

Although he did not know it, his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit when he crashed.

The project set up in his memory shows young people the real-life consequences of drinking and driving, so they will not make the same tragic mistake which cut short a young life so full of promise.

Matthew’s parents, Andrew and Janet Alston, worked with Wasted Lives, Lancashire’s young driver education programme, to create a project that would persuade young people not to drink and drive.

Refusing to shy away from the stark and graphic nature of Matthew’s sudden and heartbreaking death, the hard-hitting campaign even showed other young people the smashed and twisted wreckage of the car he was killed in.

The Matthew Alston Project encourages young adults to examine the attitudes that can cause risky driving and to show the consequences of making the wrong decision, and is supported by online information.

County Coun. John Fillis, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “I’d like to pay tribute to Matthew’s parents, who have had the courage to take such a tragic event and use it to do so much good.

“More than 25,000 young people have now seen at first hand the results of being over the drink-drive limit and I’m confident it will have made many of them think twice about taking the risk.”

The Matthew Alston Project is delivered to schools and colleges by road safety advisers from Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Constabulary.

In 2012, 363 people were killed or injured due to drink-driving on Lancashire’s roads. Research shows that drivers aged 17 to 24 have the highest level of drink-drive crashes per distance travelled.

Matthew was killed instantly early on the morning of

August 14th, 2010, after losing control of his car and crashing into another vehicle, injuring its occupants. He was more than twice the drink-drive limit after partying with friends the previous night.

A much-loved son and brother, Matthew was a popular and hard working student at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, where he also excelled at sport. He was just days from collecting his A-level results and looking forward to going to university.

Speaking after the inquest into Matthew’s death, his parents said: “As parents we have experienced a heartbreaking loss that we do not want any other family to go through.”

l For more about the Wasted Lives programme visit www.wastedlives.co.uk