June 14, 2012 – As graduates are excitedly counting down their final days of high school, ICBC is asking parents to help the celebrations 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.*
“This is a very exciting time for thousands of British Columbia graduates and their proud families,” said Kevin Falcon, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. “We want youth to celebrate their accomplishments, and parents can help to ensure they do it safely. We don’t want any family to suffer a tragedy, so we’re asking parents to talk to their grads and make sure they plan ahead for a safe ride home.”
Few know the consequences of making poor choices like ICBC road safety speaker, Heather Charlton. Heather was 19 years old when she chose to drive her friends home after a night of drinking and partying. They were involved in a horrific crash that killed Heather’s best friend. Even 15 years later, she is still dealing with the consequences of that choice. Heather and other ICBC road safety speakers have been touring the province this spring to motivate teens to plan ahead and to think twice before taking risks behind the wheel.
“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 Heather. “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 tips from ICBC to help parents talk to their grads and make sure they get home safely:
- Know their plan: Does your teen have a designated driver planned for their entire evening? Many grads treat themselves to a limousine ride � make sure they plan a safe ride home if they’ll be going to any other celebrations or if the limousine isn’t scheduled to drive them home.
- Plan B: Things don’t always go as planned so talk to your teen about expecting the unexpected and what their alternative options are to get home safely. Review a few scenarios with them to help guide them on how they can make smart choices.
- Make it unconditional: If you haven’t already, consider letting your child know that they can call you at any time if they ever need a ride. If they do call you for assistance, be supportive and consider saving your questions for the next day or at least until you’re home. If you can’t pick them up yourself, you can always have them return home safely in a taxi.
- Power of choice: Use real-life scenarios to talk to your teen 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.
- Power of influence: Your teen’s choices can have a significant influence on their friends. For example, if they take a stand against impaired driving they can help create a culture that recognizes making smart decisions. Even if you’re confident that your child is going to make the right choices, talk to them about looking out for their friends, especially those they know are easily influenced by others. And don’t forget, you also set an example for them every day with your own driving behaviour.
ICBC is committed to working with youth, parents, educators and community groups to help reduce crashes, identify the risks of the road and provide young drivers with strong decision-making skills.
You can find more on road safety, including helpful tips for young drivers on icbc.com.
*Statistics are based on 2006 to 2010 ICBC and police data. Youth are defined as age 16 to 21.