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Jordan’s grieving family urge young drivers to focus

Tanya Lofthouse visits the grave of her football-mad son Jordan Dowson every day. Jordan loved Chelsea Football Club Photo:

The distraught family of a teenager killed in a car accident have backed a campaign to safeguard young drivers on north east roads.

The family of talented footballer Jordan Dowson said they will never recover from his death and are supporting Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) as it launches its Young Driver campaign.

They are at Middlesbrough College along with representatives from RSGB NE, police and the fire service, to talk to students in the hope that other families will not endure the pain they have suffered.

The latest statistics show that young people are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than other drivers, with the risk increasing when they have a car full of friends.

While young drivers are not at fault for all collisions they are involved in, when they are responsible the main causes are failing to look properly, risk-taking, distraction, speeding, inexperience and driving while impaired by drink or drugs.

Between 2011 and 2015, almost a third (29%) of road accident injuries in the region related to collisions involving young drivers aged between 17 and 24. This is despite young people accounting for only 7% of driving licence-holders.

Sadly, Jordan, 19, from Guisborough, was one of those casualties. He died in February 2014 while travelling as a back-seat passenger in his friend Josh Butters’ car on the A174 Brotton by-pass in east Cleveland. He had been wearing a seatbelt and no-one was alleged to have been speeding.

However, the courts heard how Butters had veered into the oncoming lane and collided with two cars –killing his friend Jordan at the scene and injuring his own girlfriend Ashley East. Their car came to rest on its roof.

Jordan Dowson is pictured with his grand-dad Michael Dowson

In the past five years in the North East:

38
Young drivers have been killed
440
were seriously injured

However, a total of 64 young people have died in that time, including passengers and pedestrians – of which Jordan was one.

The prosecution claimed Butters had possibly been trying to perform a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre, but he denied it and said the steering wheel had locked and the brakes had failed as the road naturally bent to the left.

However, tests proved the car had been in perfect working order. Why Butters drove his car into the wrong lane, therefore, may never be known.

He received a three-and- a-half- year prison sentence for causing the death of Jordan by dangerous driving – while still refusing to accept responsibility for killing his friend. He had passed his driving test just nine weeks before, and had only taken ownership of his car a few days before.0

Every day is still very painful for us because Jordan should not have died that day. He was such a fun, happy character – he had his whole life ahead of him.

We will never really know what happened. All we do know is there was no fault with the car and for some reason Josh was in the wrong lane, which caused the collision that ended Jordan’s life and changed ours forever.

The pain never goes away, but we must learn to live with it. Talking about it is difficult but we hope that by supporting the campaign we can show young people how road accidents can ruin and take lives.

If it helps save one life, it will have been worth it.

– Jordan’s mum, Tanya Lofthouse

Every day Tanya now visits Jordan’s grave at Guisborough Cemetery and is still reliant on the medication she began taking after his death.

Jordan’s nine brothers and sisters are also struggling to come to terms with his loss, as are his grandparents, who he stayed with and was very close to.

Christmas Day for us was always a huge family party, with Jordan at the centre of it all.

Now every Christmas Day, we take a walk to the cemetery to visit Jordan.

– Tanya Lofthouse
Road Safety GB North East Chairman Paul Watson and Gateshead Council’s Road Safety Officer Angela Burnett urge drivers to take it easy

Whilst there has been a decrease in young driver accidents in recent years, nationally, after suicide, road traffic accidents are the main cause of death of young people.

The more rural counties of County Durham and Northumberland have the highest young driver casualties.