'Signal-blocking phone pouches' for St Patrick's pupils
A County Down school has handed out signal-blocking pouches for mobile phones in a bid to stop young people becoming distracted behind the wheel.
A current pupil and a pupil who had recently left St Patrick's Grammar School have died in road crashes in the past year.
The Downpatrick school has also been affected by the death of a pupil's close relative.
Mobile phone use while driving was not necessarily a factor in the deaths.
But the school has decided to supply all sixth form pupils with the pouches for use when driving, and is the first school in Northern Ireland to take such a step.
The school felt that it need to do more to prevent road accidents, principal Sean Sloan said.
It will also gift the pouches to pupils of driving age in all of the other schools in the County Down town.
The phone blocker is a mobile phone storage pouch that is lined with special rigid polyurethane foam material.
When sealed inside the pouch, a mobile phone cannot receive any calls or alerts, thereby blocking the temptation for a student to use or check their phone - and eliminating the distraction that an alert can create.
It is hoped the pouches will help ensure pupils are not tempted to answer calls or read messages when driving.
Head boy Vincent said the pouches would save lives as they would encourage drivers to put their mobile phones away while at the wheel.
"It takes a split second, you see your phone light up, you glance over," he said.
"If you can't see any notifications, you can't hear anything... you are concentrating on the road ahead."