As graduates are counting down their final days of high school, ICBC and local police are asking parents to help the celebrations run smoothly by making sure their teens plan ahead to get home safely.
Every year, on average, 1,200 youth are injured and four are killed during the April, May, and June grad season in the Lower Mainland.
“The leading cause of death in that age group is car crashes,” said Ridge Meadows RCMP Sgt. Dale Somerville, adding that police will be out during graduation and they will have zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
“Underage drinking will always be a fact of life – it’s wrong – but drinking and driving is by far way worse,” Somerville added.
Few know the consequences of making poor choices like ICBC road safety speaker Heather Charlton.
Charlton was 19 when she chose to drive her friends home after a night of drinking and partying 15 years ago. They were involved in a horrific crash that killed her best friend.
“No one ever came to my high school and talked to me about what it would be like to go to the hospital the night of the crash, have my head stitched up and then be handcuffed and thrown in jail,” said Charlton.
“No one ever talked to me about things like what it was like to walk through a funeral home with my best friend’s parents, picking out caskets for their only daughter. No one ever told me that my own family wouldn’t want me in their lives because of the harm that I caused and that nothing could change that. ‘I’m sorry’ does not work in a story like mine.”
Here are some tips:
1) Know their plan.
2) Have a plan B.
3) Let teens know they can call parents for a ride.
4) Use real-life scenarios to talk to teens about driving behaviour. Don’t lecture.
•More tips at www.mrtimes.com
•Plan B: Things don’t always go as planned, so talk to teens about expecting the unexpected and what their alternative options are to get home safely.
•Make it unconditional: Let teens know that they can call at any time if they ever need a ride. If they do call for assistance, be supportive and consider saving questions for the next day or at least until after arriving at home. If pick-up isn’t available, call them a taxi.
•Power of choice: Use real-life scenarios to talk to teens about their driving behavior rather than lecturing them. If they’re going to be a designated driver, talk to them about not letting passengers or peer pressure influence their choices and that a real designated driver is one who does not drink at all.