From October 16th to 22nd, 2016 the Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Sault Ste. Marie Police Services, Emergency Management, Safe Communities Partnership, Young Drivers of Canada, All-Risks Insurance Brokers Ltd., Dawson and Keenan Ltd., and Algoma Public Health have joined forces as the Algoma Road Safety Working Group to encourage teens and their parents to improve safety on our roads by sharing safe driving tips that help teens keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
Now in its fourth year, Parachute’s National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) is an annual public awareness campaign aimed at reducing distracted, aggressive and impaired driving – the leading causes of preventable injury and death among teens.
Youth on the roads are still getting injured at high rates and, while young people only make up 13% of the licensed drivers, they account for approximately one quarter of all road-related injuries and fatalities. Canadian drivers aged 16 to 24 are at a higher risk of being killed in motor vehicle collisions than any other age group. This is a serious issue that needs attention, and for that reason the Algoma Road Safety Working Group is calling on everyone to join the Facebook and Twitter campaign and pledge to be part of #AlgomaUndistracted, #GetHomeSafe, and #PracticeSafeText.
“Teen fatalities behind the wheel are preventable,” says Staff Sergeant Michael Maville, Detachment Commander Sault Ste. Marie OPP, “Through NTDSW and community initiatives like those being supported by high schools and teen volunteers across the Algoma district, we are working to raise awareness of the devastating effect of distracted driving and encourage young drivers to focus on the road, not their phones.”
Attempting to use cell phones for making or answering phone calls or texting while driving is a major source of distraction and the seriousness of these infractions is reflected by the penalty of a $490 fine and 3 demerit points upon conviction. Other distractions like eating and drinking, grooming, and attending to children and pets while driving can lead to circumstances even more dire than a fine, demerits, and increased insurance rates. Follow these tips to avoid distractions:
- Plan your route prior to starting the car.
- Install a distracted driving app on your cell phone and put the phone away while you drive.
- Advise your passengers to be quiet while you are driving.
- Pull over to a safe place to deal with children in the car.
- Avoid eating, drinking or smoking while driving.
- Keep music at a level where you can hear emergency vehicle sirens.
- Do your personal grooming before you leave or after you arrive, not en route!
- Secure items like purses, parcels, backpacks, and pets.
The Algoma Road Safety Working Group and local community partners will be on site at St. Mary’s College on October 18th working with their student council to reward good driving behavior and to warn young drivers and their passengers about the hazards of driving distracted.