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Young drivers make up 13 per cent of all licensed drivers in Canada, yet they account for almost one-fourth of all road-related injuries and fatalities. From October 19 – 26, 2015 as part of Parachute Canada’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, the Sault Ste. Marie Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Sault Ste. Marie Police Services (SSMPS), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Safe Communities, Our Driving School, Highland Ford, and Algoma Public Health (APH) have joined forces to encourage teens and their parents to improve safety on our roads by sharing safe driving tips that help teens keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) is an annual public awareness campaign aimed at reducing distracted, aggressive and impaired driving – the leading cause of preventable injury and death among teens.

One in four young adults know someone who has been impacted as a result of distracted driving, which is why the working group of community partners is calling on everyone to join the Twitter campaign and pledge to be part of #AlgomaUndistracted, be a #BFF, and #PracticeSafeText.

“Teen fatalities behind the wheel are preventable,” says Sault Ste. Marie Detachment Commander S/Sgt. Dan Esposto.“Through NTDSW and community initiatives like those being supported by high schools and teen volunteers across the Algoma district, we are working to raise awareness of the devastating effect of distracted driving and encourage young drivers to focus on the road, not their phones.”

One example of awareness-raising events being conducted in Algoma district high schools this week is the “selfie” BFF promotion. Portable photo booths will allow students to pose for a “selfie” with a pledge promising to “#PracticeSafeText” and look out for their “#BFF.” Participants will be asked to “tweet” their photos to the Twitter hash tags provided and post them to their favourite social media sites. A social media “Thunderclap” will occur Thursday October 22, 2015 when Algoma district residents are encouraged to join hundreds of Algoma teens at exactly 10:00 a.m. by simultaneously tweeting pledges to drive undistracted to #AlgomaUndistracted and #PractiseSafeText, or otherwise tweet pledges to stop their friends from driving distracted at #AlgomaUndistracted and #BFF. The week will culminate with a dramatic outdoor 3-D art exhibit accompanied by driver safety education information and displays on Saturday October 24, 2015 at Superior Heights C. & V.S. next to the field where the semi-final high school football games will take place.

Over 51 per cent of young adults admit to distracted driving, although almost all are aware of its dangers. Recent polls indicate 80 per cent of young adults would speak up if they saw their friend doing the same. Friends have great influence in our lives and can help spark that change. Encouraging friends to curb the texting and don’t let your best friends text and drive. It’s not worth the risk.