For a teenager, getting a driver’s licence offers a world of freedom—especially for those living in rural areas. But with that freedom, comes a big responsibility—and a significant risk. Motor vehicle collisions are the third leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 24 years old in Canada. And young drivers are more likely than any other age group to be speeding at the time of a fatal crash. They are also more likely to be distracted by devices such as their cellphones.
As part of this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week
(October15-21), Parachute, Canada’s national injury prevention charity, is trying to save lives by making young drivers more aware of the risks of speeding, impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving.
Once again this year, they’re also focusing on rail safety.
“Drivers who speed or are distracted are two of the leading causes of collisions on our roads, and youth and young adults are killed in road crashes at a higher rate than any other age group under 75 years old,” says Pamela Fuselli, President and CEO of Parachute. “Those same risk factors endanger young drivers and their passengers when it comes to railway crossings.”
Ensuring young drivers are aware of the risks
Because teens are less experienced drivers, they often can’t anticipate threats as quickly as more experienced drivers. Many teens also don’t realize that today’s trains can be extremely quiet and can come from any direction; they can easily miss an oncoming train at a crossing if they’re distracted, impaired, or driving too quickly.
"This National Teen Driver Safety Week, we want to drive home the message to young people that a split-second decision can change their life—or end it,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. “Speeding or failing to slow down when approaching a crossing, or being distracted by a text message, music, or a phone call, can have devastating consequences for any driver, including teens.”
Claudie Landry knows all too well the tragic consequences of distracted driving. Her 18-year-old daughter, Laura Tardif, was killed when the car she was driving was hit by a train at a railway crossing in L’Isle-Verte, Que. in 2014. Laura didn’t see the train coming because she was using her cellphone to text a friend. Laura’s heartbreaking story
is featured in one of OL’s #STOPTrackTragedies
Spreading the safety message this National Teen Driver Safety Week
But deaths like Laura’s can be prevented. This National Teen Driver Safety Week, help Parachute and Operation Lifesaver Canada spread the safety message on social media, using the hashtag #OurFutureRoads and #NTDSW2023. By working together, we can reduce the number of young people who lose their lives while driving on Canada’s roads.
And stay tuned to our blog post next week. On November 1st
, Operation Lifesaver will be announcing a special collaboration to promote rail-safe driving for teens.