Placentia school launches National Teen Driving Safety Week
Close your eyes. You’re behind the wheel of your car with your best friend in the passenger seat. A dinging sound from your cell phone catches your attention.
It’s a text message confirming plans for later that evening.
But the excitement is interrupted when your car veers into oncoming traffic because you didn’t see the bend in the road.
You are OK. Your friend, on the other hand, has sustained a serious head injury, one that will take years to recover from. She may never be the same again.
This was one of many examples of safe driving discussed at the National Teen Driving Safety Week presentation at Laval High School in Placentia on Wednesday, Oct. 21. While the presenters all spoke about the same topic, each one had a different example for distracted or unsafe driving practices.
The English School District senior education officer John Way remembered witnessing a young woman lose control and roll her vehicle into a ditch on Veterans Memorial Highway. She had a bag of candy to keep her energized during the drive. Reaching for that candy distracted her enough that she went off the road. Luckily, she was fine.
“Just like that, her life could have been over,” Way told the silent group of teenagers.
Placentia-St. Mary’s MHA Felix Collins also weighed in on the dangers of distracted driving, using his own experience and things he has witnessed.
“Driving is one of the riskiest activities you can get into,” Collins noted.
He drives to work on the Outer Ring Road in St. John’s everyday. It is known for accidents, and Collins cites speeding as the problem.
“The outer ring road is known as a dangerous road,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with the Outer Ring Road, it’s the driving.”
Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. has been active in road safety for many years. He is also a first responder.
“I’ve met many families whose lives have been ruined from unsafe driving,” Power explained.
He spoke about the impact an accident has on, not just the occupant, but also those closest to them. His message explained that death was a possibility in instances of unsafe driving, and everyone should know the rules of the road.
A representative from the Newfoundland and Labrador Brain Injury Association, Angie Smith, was the presenter that had the crowd close their eyes to imagine crashing their car. She’s seen so many families affected by brain damage and head injuries over the years, many of which could have been prevented.
Her message was for students to pledge to leave their phones alone when driving.
“People come in
coun- selling (asking) how they’re going to pay for travel back and forth to town for treatment, possibly for the rest of their lives,” Smith said.
It came as a pleasant surprise to Len LeRiche, president and CEO of Safety Services NL, and other invited guests that the school organized educational entertainment.
Television show “Are you smarter than a fifth grader” was the influence of a live production put off by the students.
Hosted by the school’s own Maggie Follett, who was also one of three singers at the event, the game included seventh graders and other students that portrayed adults with driving experience.
Asking questions about driving safety, including how many teenagers admit to texting while driving, all seventh graders got all the right answers. The contestants got all their questions wrong and had to admit they didn’t know as much as the students when it came to road safety and statistics.
Some of the information the audience learned from the presentation included that young people have the highest percentage of accidents and that people are four times as likely to crash a vehicle if they are using a cell phone.
“Don’t be a statistic,” Follett told the crowd at the end of the performance.
“People come in to counselling (asking) how they’re going to pay for travel back and forth to town for treatment, possibly for the rest of their lives.” Angie Smith
Students at Laval High School put off a great performance to teach driving statistics to their school. The included, in no particular order, Lucas White, Liam Ryan, Shannon Barry, Christopher Clarke, Aaron Hussey, Maggie Follett and Patrick Pearson. Not in photo were Grace Follett and Emily Reid, who were also contestants in the game show. Passed peacefully away at the Carbonear General Hospital on Friday, October 16, 2015, Helen G. Hearn of Riverhead, Hr. Grace, age 78 years. Predeceased by parents: Richard and Alice Reynolds, brother: Joseph, sisters: Elizabeth Morgan, Marguerite Butt and Sheila Short. Left to mourn, husband: Vincent; two daughters: Helena (David) Sheppard and Betty Ann (Max) Short, both of Riverhead, Harbour Grace; two sons: Vincent (Diane) and Phil (Lily), both of Riverhead, Harbour Grace; ten grandchildren: David (Angie), Kayla, Hannah, Maxine (Bill), Maxwell, Vincent III, Rebecca, Cameron, Colin and Ashley; two great-grandchildren: Billy and Katie; sister: Marie (Phil Sheppard), A First World War commemoration event featuring the Newfoundland Regiment Band will take place at Carbonear Academy Thursday, Oct. 29. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and admission is free.