Date01 March 2023
On Tuesday 28 February, the story of Ruthin teenager Olivia Alkir was shared with lawmakers, road safety campaigners, the emergency services, and insurance industry representatives at the Senedd with the aim of making our roads safer for young people in Wales. Olivia’s Story is a film which tells the tragic events surrounding the death of 17-year-old Olivia from Ruthin, who was killed in June 2019 following a collision caused by two young drivers racing. The film, which features her family, friends, and schoolteachers, has been used in schools to encourage road safety and to warn young people of the dangers of poor driving.
The event took place at Ty Hywel on the Senedd estate in Cardiff Bay. It was organised by the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Andy Dunbobbin, and was sponsored by North Wales regional Senedd Member Carolyn Thomas MS. Olivia’s mum Jo Alkir, and Deputy Chair of the Police and Crime Panel and Ruthin resident Pat Astbury, were also present to support the campaign and speak to attendees, who included representatives from the emergency services, Association of British Insurers, road safety campaigners, and North Wales Senedd Members Janet Finch-Saunders, Llyr Grufydd and Darren Millar. Following an introduction and welcome to Members of the Senedd from Jack Sargeant MS for Alyn and Deeside, the film was shown to the guests. This was followed by a discussion on how Welsh government, local government and industry can work together to make our roads safer for young people. The event ended with a general drop-in session for Senedd officials and staff to learn more about the campaign.
The special showing of the film was an opportunity to share the message behind the film and its key theme of road safety. Jo Alkir is campaigning for a black box to be fitted to every young person’s car to monitor driving and to try and prevent further tragedies like Olivia’s.
A black box is a small GPS tracking device installed in a driver’s car that can monitor their driving skills, such as how fast they drive, miles driven, breaks taken on a journey, and how they brake and control their car. The information gathered via the black box can be used by an insurer to provide a telematics insurance policy. From this information, the insurer can give the driver a score for their driving. This can then affect how much they pay for their car insurance policy. Such a device ideally encourages drivers to drive more safely. It can also lower what they pay for their insurance and ultimately help keep our young people safe on the road.
The power to legislate to make black boxes compulsory lies with the UK Government, but the event at the Senedd was a way of sharing the message throughout Wales and building a momentum for change.
Working with Olivia’s parents, family and friends, the film and supporting school lessons were originally premiered at the end of March 2022. Since the launch, the lessons are being delivered in all secondary schools in North Wales and the film is being made available nationally via SchoolBeat. Olivia’s Story has also received national interest, with a number of news outlets running the story of the film and its important message, including the One Show on the BBC.
The target audience for the project, from the start, has been 14–20-year-olds within educational settings and colleges. The hope for the future is it that will be rolled out in Youth Clubs, Young Farmers, Police Cadets and any other environment that captures young people within the target age group, so that they understand the message of staying safe on the road.
Jo Alkir commented: “It meant a great deal to take Olivia’s Story to the Senedd and to share my beloved daughter’s story with figures from politics, road safety organisations and industry. I am pleased with how the event went and the positive and supportive comments from those who came.
“I am determined to see change happen and to get a black box fitted in all new drivers’ cars, so that what happened to Olivia doesn’t happen to anyone else. I would also like to see Olivia’s Story shown to students right across the UK and would encourage anyone who wants to see our children be safer on the roads to join our campaign.”
Andy Dunbobbin, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, commented: “Road safety is a hugely important issue for our young people and it was an honour to join Jo Alkir at the Senedd to share Olivia’s Story and to call on Welsh Government to join our campaign for black boxes to be fitted in the cars of new drivers. Welsh Government have already shown their commitment to road safety through measures such as the forthcoming 20mph speed limit rule. While making the fitting of black boxes compulsory is a power that lies with the UK Government, it’s hugely important we have these conversations in Wales and with Welsh Government. We need to create a groundswell of support locally to bring about change nationally.”
Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki, Nort Wales Police, said: “This is a truly heart breaking and powerful film, you cannot help but be moved by it.
“Sadly, young drivers are much more likely to be involved in road traffic collisions, often due to inexperience and a lack of knowledge of the risks. The aim of Olivia’s Story is to help educate young people about the importance of staying safe on the road. New or pre-drivers are the target audience, it aims to help them be aware of their responsibilities and of the devastating consequences that can occur.
“This collision was truly devastating for Olivia’s family and friends. The tragic circumstances surrounding the collision and the fact that Olivia lost her life that afternoon was also felt throughout the whole community of Ruthin.
“Olivia’s Story could not have been made without the support of her parents who have shown tremendous courage in allowing us to tell her story in such a powerful way. We are extremely grateful to them, the feedback from across Wales has been overwhelming and today’s event at the Senedd gives us all an opportunity to raise further national awareness of the film. “
More information is available on: Olivia Alkir – In Olivia's memory (olivia-alkir.co.uk)