From his wheelchair

From his wheelchair

A message before grad party season

Kevin Brooks reminded high school students in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows that drinking and driving has devastating consequences

On average, three youth are killed and 1,160 injured during April, May and June in the Lower Mainland every year.

That’s why, ICBC kicked off its Lower Mainland road safety speaker program at Garibaldi Secondary in Maple Ridge Wednesday to connect with high school students as they head into the grad and prom party season.

“It’s important that we do what we can to help B.C. youth understand the devastating impact one wrong decision could have on their lives and their families,” said Mary Polak, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“The reality is that car crashes are the number one preventable cause of death for youth in B.C. ICBC’s road safety speakers help strengthen young people’s decision-making skills and teach them to think twice before taking risks behind the wheel.”

From his wheelchair, Kevin Brooks shared the story of how he lost his friend one Saturday night while driving drunk in Surrey. His presentation brought some students to tears.

“ICBC road safety speakers’ presentations always give our students the opportunity to reflect not only on their own behaviour, but also on the behaviour of their friends and family,” said Garibaldi principal Grant Frend. “Every speaker who shares their story has a lasting impact on our community.”

Last year, Maple Ridge lost two high school students in a crash on Dewdney Trunk Road.

Samuel Robertson student Dawson Spencer was driving a mini-van that slammed head-on into a Honda Civic driven by Garibaldi Secondary student. Spencer, 16, died at the scene, while Crystal Weaver, an 18-year-old female passenger in the Honda Civic, was also killed. Two boys in Spencer’s van were injured as were the driver of the Honda Civic and a second passenger.

Witnesses said the Dodge van crossed the centre line, but the fatalities have made it hard for police to determine exactly what caused the crash. Investigators believe alcohol may have been a factor.

“The message that road safety speakers bring home to young people is: This really can happen to you if you choose to drink and drive or ride with an impaired driver,” said Shirley Bond, B.C.’s Attorney General.

“As a government, we can reiterate the consequences that impaired drivers face… But a very personal, life-or-death message can take us even further with young people, and help us to build a generation that simply says no to drinking and driving.”

Over the past 16 years, ICBC road safety speakers have shared their stories with more than 50,000 B.C. high school students.

“Our road safety speaker program is one way that we reach out to students to motivate them to make smart, safe driving choices,” said John Dickinson, ICBC’s director of road safety. “Our road safety speakers connect with students through their personal, heartbreaking stories and help them realize the tragic and life-changing consequences of taking risks while driving.”

Don’t Drink & Drive

ICBC road safety speaks will be back in May.

May 8 – Samuel Robertson Tech, Maple Ridge – Heather Charlton at 10:30 a.m.

May 9 – Pitt Meadows Secondary – Cara Filler at 1:20 p.m.