CHSS, along with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit and Central Hastings OPP launched the school-led initiative for National Teen Driving Safety at the school.
“It’s a message that everyone is affected by whether you are the driver or the passenger. So I thought it was a really important campaign to have especially in our rural school to promote how important it is to focus on the road,” explained Amy Young, French teacher at CHSS and organizer of the school campaign.
The Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Unit selected CHSS for the National Teen Driving Safety campaign and provided them with banner for their “pledge” day.
Hundreds of students made the Centurion Pledge and Focus on the Future by signing a large banner and showing their support for a safer community.
“Starting Nov. 1 we have held different activities throughout the week to promote the message that even as a passenger you have a roll to play in stopping distracted driving,” said Young.
Grade 10 student Andrew Shipley handed out lanyards, funded by the Community Police Advisory Committee, to students who took the “pledge” by signing their name on the banner.
“There are so many accidents because of distracted driving so we are just trying to get people more aware to stop this from happening — I don’t have my licence but I stop my parents from texting and driving. When they get texts while driving I will respond for them,” said Shipley.
The Health Unit introduced a game to the students that simulates how difficult multi-tasking can be — especially for teenagers.
Student had to try to send a text message to a friend or loved one while placing matching items on the board in under 30 seconds.
“Texting and driving has become the leading cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents in Ontario — it’s a huge issue for us,” explained Semple.
Distracted driving not only includes texting and driving but also eating while driving, choosing a playlist, reading or typing a destination into a GPS behind the wheel all count as distracted driving — and they put you and others at risk.
If caught driving distracted, the driver will be charged a $490 fine plus three demerit points.
“Most high school students have probably been texting for several years already but they haven’t been driving — we have to make it front and centre that texting while driving is such a risky behaviour,” said Semple.
The banner covered with signatures will be hung in the school’s cafeteria to act as a reminder to the students when they see it that they have taken a pledge to not text and drive.