National Teen Driver Safety Week educates students

By Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Melanie Murrin, Youth Impact Coordinator for Safe Community Wood Buffalo, is traveling to high schools this week to spread the awareness for National Teen Driver Safety Week. Photo by Kiran Malik-Khan, Con- nect Weekly

Melanie Murrin, Youth Impact Coordinator for Safe Community Wood Buffalo, is traveling to high schools this week to spread the awareness for National Teen Driver Safety Week. Photo by Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

It’s a blink. Checking a text, looking for your favourite song, or choosing any distraction while driving. Crash! It can end your life, or change it for the worse, forever. This is the focus of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from October 16 to 22.

Hosted by Safe Community Wood Buffalo (SCWB), this is an annual campaign created by Parachute Canada, which is a national and charitable group (based out of Ontario) dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives.

In its third year locally, the campaign focuses on high school visits conducted by SCWB coordinators. Amid a plethora of activities, they highlight messages of safety in a fun environment. One activity includes a portable photo booth is set-up with props for students to use and have fun with, while getting their photos taken.

“We will visit students during their lunch hour with Katie MacDonald – The Boothographer – to get the students to participate in a ‘Photo Bomb’ event,” explains Melanie Murrin, Impact Youth Coordinator for Safe Community Wood Buffalo.

“It is exceptionally important that we recognize and honour this week with education and safe experiences for teens in our community to encourage them to practice safe driving behaviours. Each year we celebrate a special theme with a hashtag created from Parachute and this year’s theme is #GetHomeSafe,” said Murrin.

“Our main goal during this week is not to lecture teen drivers, but to educate and reward them for their excellent skills. In saying this, we have the RCMP attending with us this year for a Positive Ticketing event for students as they enter and exit the parking lot at lunch hour and all of the safe, non-distracted drivers will be stopped and given a Positive Ticket by one of the members that contains safe driving tips and an entry form,” continued Murrin, who has been with SCWB since January 2014.

The entry form allows students to enter Parachute Canada’s national draw for a variety of prizes ranging from gift cards of $1,000 to mystery prizes.

“We have enough tickets for up to 50 students per high school in Fort McMurray. Students will hand their entries to me at school, and we will be mailing back to Ontario immediately to ensure they are all entered for their chances to win.”

And, student response to the event has always been great.

“Each year students have been very excited to participate and share stories with us about distracted driving – things that they have witnessed and what they have done to prevent it as well, which means we are doing our job ensuring they are receiving this important message. This year more than ever we really want to push the #GetHomeSafe theme so they know someone is waiting for them, who loves them and wants them to get there safely,” Murrin added.

Messages for this week shared with schools:
Drugs and Driving Don’t Mix: Did you know that 1 in 4 teen drivers that died in motor vehicle collisions between 2000-2010 tested positive for cannabis? Many youth do not consider driving while impaired by drugs risky and some even believe that using cannabis makes them better drivers! Make your car a drug-free zone!

Hands-Free Doesn’t Mean Brain-Free. Are you aware that mental distractions can last up to 27 seconds after using voice commands with a hands free device to make a call, send a text, or change the music? If you are travelling at 50km/hr that is enough time to drive the length of about 3 football fields! To minimize distractions, ask passengers for help so you can stay focused on the road.

Texting Is Like Driving Blindfolded. Research shows that texting behind the wheel is equivalent to driving with your eyes closed for almost five seconds! Reduce the temptation of texting by keeping your phone out of reach. It could save your life.

Phones Aren’t The Only Distractions. In recent surveys, young drivers reported being distracted by interacting with passengers (including pets!), searching for music and changing their clothes. Multitasking behind the wheel isn’t safe so always remain focused on the road and other drivers around you.

Speak Up to Stop Distracted Drivers! Young passengers have the power to stop distracted driving as it happens.

A recent survey of Canadian drivers found that 96% of drivers would stop driving distracted if a passenger asked them to. Simply asking can save your life and others.
Source: Safe Community Wood Buffalo

– Connect Weekly –