Teen Racecar Driver Will Brake for Trains
OTTAWA - Stefany Malanka is no stranger to speed. But even the 17-year-old racecar champion wouldn’t race a train at a crossing. She knows that’s a contest you just can’t win. Click Here for Video
Miss Malanka, or “Stevie” is the Motorsport Club of Ottawa’s 2003 Rookie of the year, and the Canadian Automobile Sport Club’s most promising young driver. She is also Direction 2006’s and Operation Lifesaver’s newest advocate. The teenaged Formula Ford driver is the star of Direction 2006’s latest public service announcement.
The Direction 2006 objective: to reduce crossing deaths and injuries from trespassing on railway property, and at Canada’s highway/railway intersections by 50 per cent by 2006. That’s the driving force behind the public service announcement campaign, and part of a broader effort by government, the industry, and communities. Direction 2006 is closer than ever to reaching their target goal.
The objective has almost been reached, 90 per cent of the target goal has been achieved so far in reducing trespassing. Crossing collision reduction sits at two-thirds of the set out goal – all thanks in part to the help of celebrity spokespeople like Stevie.
“I target an age group that is particularly susceptible,” Stevie says. Teenagers who are just learning to drive are often unaware of the dangers of highway/railway crossings, and don’t always take care to be cautious, she says. Stevie is confident that she can get through to teens. “I’m probably the person that could reach them because I’m in their age group. It also peaks their interest because I’m a racecar driver.”
The PSAs will feature associations between racecar driving and rail safety. “The final product should be pretty good,” Stevie said, “shots of me in the race car –and they plan on inserting clips of cars in the collisions at train crossings. It should be a good way of getting the message out.”
The PSA featuring Stevie, Ottawa’s teenaged racecar driver, is the most recent in a series of innovative PSA’s made by Direction 2006 and Operation Lifesaver, and aired as a public service by Canada’s radio and television stations and specialty channels. In the past, the 30-second segments have included safety messages from other sports celebrities and scary sequences of collisions, an effective way of getting through to people, especially young drivers and their parents.
Since the beginning of Direction 2006’s campaign Canada has made leaps and bounds towards reducing incidents at highway/railway crossings and has become a world leader in crossing safety.
“I don’t think they [teenagers] fully understand the risk,” Stevie said. “I would be happy if I could make a difference for just one person, to save just one person or make just one person think – hey – watch out for trains.”
Dan Di Tota