Grieving Sunderland mum’s plea to drivers

Steven Atkinson's parents Violet and Graeme at a memorial stone that was laid for him.
Steven Atkinson's parents Violet and Graeme at a memorial stone that was laid for him.
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A MUM battling to come to terms with the death of her son today pleaded with drivers to slow down.

Violet Atkinson, whose son Steven, 12, was killed by a speeding driver, has teamed up with charity Brake to launch a road safety campaign.

File picture of Steven Atkinson taken December 2007. Steven died 17th October 2009 when he was hit by a car the A183 Chester Road at the pelican crossing near to the Grindon Post Office.'Celebrating success in winning the chance to be mascot for the Sunderland game on Boxing Day, Steven Atkinson is joined by Brent Ganley of the sponsors Thompson Builders Merchants aned head teacher at Broadway School, Margarita Acklam.

File picture of Steven Atkinson taken December 2007. Steven died 17th October 2009 when he was hit by a car the A183 Chester Road at the pelican crossing near to the Grindon Post Office.'Celebrating success in winning the chance to be mascot for the Sunderland game on Boxing Day, Steven Atkinson is joined by Brent Ganley of the sponsors Thompson Builders Merchants aned head teacher at Broadway School, Margarita Acklam.

It comes as new figures released as part of Road Safety Week reveal that road accidents are the biggest killer of young people.

The Atkinson family, of Ford Estate, know all too well the devastation that can be caused when drivers break the speed limit.

Sandhill View School pupil Steven had been crossing the road at The Broadway, Grindon, in October 2009, when he was hit by Ross Telfer’s car.

The then 21-year-old, of Chester-le-Street, had been driving at 53mph in a 30mph zone and was given 16 months in jail after admitting causing death by careless driving.

Since then Violet, 40, has vowed to educate motorists to the dangers of driving. She said: “Even if this campaign stops one parent going through what we’ve been through, then I’ll be happy.

“People look at cars as a luxury, but they don’t realise the carnage they can cause. We have our good days and bad days since Steven’s death.

“I’m still very angry about what happened and I was looking for something which could help me, which is why I’ve become involved in this campaign.”

Violet’s calls come as a survey of 425 young people in the region showed half fear for their lives at times when a passenger with a young driver, and nearly six in 10 have been endangered by risk-taking peers speeding or drink-driving.

The majority would also support a tougher regime for novice drivers, as 86 per cent were in favour of at least one type of licence restriction, such as a zero-tolerance alcohol limit or tougher penalties.

Across the UK, victims of young driver crashes and emergency services are launching Road Safety Week through demonstrations showing the horror of road crashes, including an event in Sunderland College in Usworth today.

They are speaking out about the fact that more young people die in these crashes than from any other cause, and are appealing to drivers of all ages to have a heart at the wheel.

Kath Hartley, of Brake, said: “It is unacceptable that more young people die in preventable road crashes than from any other cause.

“Every day, more families face the unbearable news that a loved one has been killed suddenly and violently, or suffered a horrific injury, in young driver crashes.

“We are calling for action to tackle this needless suffering and the huge costs to society.

“We need drivers of all ages in the North East to show compassion at the wheel, to realise they have lives in their hands, and pledge to drive safely and legally.

“We need the Government to help young, inexperienced drivers to be safer, by implementing graduated driver licensing.

“We’re appealing for a commitment to this evidenced, life-saving policy during Road Safety Week.”

Violet added: “Graduated driver licensing could have made a difference, and might have saved Steven’s life. Drivers young and old need to wake up to the consequences of driving irresponsibly.

“No words can describe the grief our family has gone through since his death.

“There’s a piece of us missing and there’s no way to escape that.”