Grade 12 students across British Columbia are anxiously counting down the final weeks of the academic calendar and their high school years. No doubt, graduation is a milestone in a young person’s life – a time filled with great anticipation and celebration.
Whether it’s the prom or the parties or the graduation ceremony itself, it’s a chockablock time of social and commemorative events. Unfortunately, some of those festivities end in tragedy on our streets and highways. Dangerous driving practices cut down too many young lives in this province. That’s why it is so important that we get the message out to young people.
The statistics are shocking and tragic. On average, 32 people in BC between the ages of 16 and 21 are killed in automobile accidents. Six of those deaths happen during the graduation season. The leading causes of those fatal crashes are speeding (39%), impaired driving (27%), and distracted driving (22%).
If you are a parent, relative, or friend of a graduate getting ready to celebrate, make sure they know how serious the matter is and that they should not participate in any of these activities. And just as important, make sure they don’t let their friends partake either.
It is a challenging, sometimes uncomfortable discussion for many adults to talk to talk to teenagers about – especially on the subject of drugs and underage drinking – but it is both responsible and vital. And it is a far easier conversation than speaking to a police officer after a tragic event.
So give your graduate the best gift possible: sit down with them and have that talk. Some things to go over:
- Zero tolerance for driving after drinking or taking drugs
- No speeding, racing, or silly antics while behind the wheel
- No texting or using devices when at the wheel #LeaveThePhoneAlone
- Do not let friends drive impaired
- Do not get into a car with an impaired driver
- Report impaired drivers to authorities
- Drive safely and defensively, adhering to the rules at all times
These aren’t just important conversations to have at grad time or with teenagers alone – they apply to all of us at all time. But knowing the statistics and the risks inherent with this time of year, it’s a good idea to drive home those points about safe and responsible road habits.