BLAKETOWN, NL — Crescent Collegiate hosted the launch of National Teen Driver Safety Week on Tuesday morning, Oct. 17.
Hundreds of students and faculty members gathered in the school’s gymnasium that morning for presentations from individuals representing several organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and STAND (Stand Together Against Negligent Driving) for Hannah, as well as speakers from local driving schools and first responders. Each presentation spoke on one important message – safe driving, with a specific focus on teen drivers, and issues relating to distracted, impaired, and aggressive driving.
This marks the fourth year Safety NL partnered with Parachute Canada to be part of an initiative that pushes for safe driving for teens who are at the age, or nearing the age, to receive their driver’s permits. In previous years, Safety NL has visited communities such as Placentia and Avondale, with Blaketown serving as this year’s destination.
Starting at around 10:30 a.m., the event opened up with words from president of Safety NL, Len LeRiche, who told The Compass later that day he felt these sorts of presentations were of critical importance.
“We’re talking about culture change,” LeRiche explained. “For the most part, for about 90 per cent of the population, you buckle up as soon as you get in a vehicle. We want to take that, and other parts of safe driving, and make it a part of our culture. We want to make people thnk about their routes, and arriving safely, and make it a part of daily life – a part of our culture, like I said.”
Students and staff at Crescent Collegiate are no strangers to the consequences of negligent driving. In 2016, Hannah Thorne, a student of Crescent Collegiate, was killed in a fatal crash along the New Harbour Barrens. Many of Thorne’s family and friends were present at Tuesday morning’s presentations, with three of her friends, Kylie Jackson, Sara March, and Rachel Burry, speaking on the subject.
“As kids, we were happy and alive, and had nothing to worry about. How quickly that all changed still baffles me. On a list of things I’ll never forget, there’s the day that (Hannah) died,” said Burry. “The only thing more painful to me than losing Hannah is watching how her mother suffers every day. The reality is that, none of this could have never happened. The only thing standing between living or dying for Hannah Thorne were two men who made decisions that weren’t theirs to make.”
Minister of Transportation and Works, and MHA for the Carbonear-Trinity-Bay de Verde district, Steve Crocker, was also present at the event.
“It’s important that we continue to work together to raise awareness of the significance of the responsibility of driving, as well as the consequences of not doing so,” said Crocker. “Together, we’ve got to work to address the dangers facing young motorists, and indeed, all motorists, wherever we can.”
Crocker also announced during his presentation that the Department of Transportation and Works would be donating $10,000 to the STAND for Hannah foundation to assist the new Taking a Stand video project, which aims to further create awareness for the consequences of negligent driving.
The only thing standing between living or dying for Hannah Thorne were two men who made decisions that weren’t theirs to make.
— Rachel Burry
Toward the end of the morning, attendees of the presentations gathered outside for the unveiling of a new sign at the front of Crescent Collegiate, which reads “Please drive safe,” and sits alongside the road leading to the school.
“Even though we all feel the same way about safe driving, I think the emotions here at Crescent Collegiate, and in the community, are a bit stronger than most places because of the impact it’s had on the area,” said LeRiche. “We’ve got to keep pushing at the message. These collisions are often unnecessary, and don’t need to happen. People need to follow the rules of the road.”