As Canada’s national injury prevention organization, Parachute is proud to present the eleventh annual National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) from October 15 to 21, 2023, an awareness week designed to build public awareness of teen driver safety issues and encourage communities to be part of the solution.

As part of NTDSW this year, Parachute has launched the Youth Road Safety Grant Program. It will enable youth to take the lead on road safety education and advocacy by funding local, engaging, youth-initiated, youth-led projects that educate young people and community members on pressing road safety issues and safe driving behaviour or advocate for proven measures in their communities.

Our messages and resources allow stakeholders and partners to prioritize teen driver safety issues in their communities, engage people in the conversation about teen driver safety and create change around this big issue.

Road crashes are the third-leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24 in Canada. Young people are killed in crashes at a higher rate than any other age group under 75 years old.

Put down the phone: Don’t drive distracted

  • Drivers who text while driving are up to six times more likely to be involved in a crash. Eyes on the road. That message can wait. Don’t drive distracted.
  • When you use your cell phone, your eyes are not on the road and you miss seeing information needed to drive safely. Don’t put yourself or others at risk; keep your focus on the road.
  • The risk of a crash increases when you take your eyes and attention off the road, even just for a second. Remove the temptation by keeping your phone out of reach while driving.
  • There are several risk factors associated with cell phone use while driving. Watching parents and caregivers use their phone while driving is one of these factors. If you text and drive it increase the likelihood that your kids will text and drive.
  • Phones aren’t the only thing that can distract you when you’re driving. Other distractions include in-car touchscreens, eating, passengers, and pets.

Higher speeds = higher risks. Stop speeding

People choose to speed for different reasons, including the rush experienced when speeding, because they’re running late, or because they think the speed limit is too low. Here’s why speeding is a bad idea, whatever your reason:

  • Speeding is a factor in one third of teen driver deaths in Canada. Don’t risk your life just for the thrill of driving faster than the limit.
  • Teens are more likely to speed when other teens are with them in the vehicle. Don’t put the lives of your friends and loved ones at risk by speeding.
  • There’s no prize to be won for speeding – instead, the faster your speed, the more likely you are to be involved in a crash.
  • Crashes at higher speeds cause more severe injuries than crashes at lower speeds.
  • Speed kills. With each increase of 1 km/h, the risk of pedestrian fatality and serious injury during a collision increases. At 50 km/h impact, the risk of a pedestrian dying is 29 per cent: almost six times what it is at 30 km/h.
  • Speed limits are put in place for a reason: follow posted limits.
  • Open or empty roads are not an invitation to speed.
  • Adjust your speed to match the conditions of the road.
  • More than 20 per cent of deadly car crashes in Canada involve speeding. Don’t contribute to the statistic.
  • Keep your community safe. Lower your speed to protect vulnerable road users in school zones, community safety zones and construction zones.
  • Speeding is not just risky, it’s illegal. You could end up paying a fine, face criminal charges, lose your licence or go to jail.

Don’t drive high

  • Cannabis impairs your ability to drive by affecting your balance and co-ordination, motor skills, attention, judgment, reaction time and decision-making skills. Don’t risk your life or the lives of others by driving high.
  • 19% of youth have said they have driven within four hours of using cannabis. Don’t risk your life or the lives of others: never drive high.
  • 35% of youth have been a passenger with a driver who used cannabis in the previous four hours. Don’t put your life at risk; never get in the car with a drug-impaired driver.
  • Driving high is never worth losing your life or putting others’ lives at risk. Make arrangements to get home safe with a friend, family member, or cab. This decision could save your life.

If you drink, don’t drive

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the third-leading cause of death among 16 to 25 year-olds, and alcohol is a factor in almost half of those crashes. It’s not worth risking your life; stay sober behind the wheel.
  • When you choose to drink and drive, you’re choosing not only to put your own life at risk, but the lives of others in danger too. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive.
  • One third of Canadians who say they’ve driven impaired do most of their drinking with close friends, partners or family members. Speak up; tell your friends and family members it isn’t cool to drink and drive.
  • Plan ahead if you or friends are planning to drink. Make sure you have a designated driver, a lift from a friend or family member, a plan to call a cab or ride service, or take public transit.
  • If you are going to drink at a remote location with limited transportation options, make a plan to get home with friends or ask your host if you can stay over. Always have a plan: never drive home impaired.

Stay off railway tracks. Be rail smart.

  • Saw the text, but did you see the train? Don’t put yourself or others at risk; keep your focus on the train track.
  • Because of their size, trains appear to be much farther away and travelling much slower than their actual speed. Don’t be fooled!
  • The average train needs at least 2 km to stop. Trains can stop, but they can’t stop quickly!
  • An average freight train weighs over 5,500 tonnes. Compare that to a car, which weighs about 1.5 tonnes. A train hitting a car is like a car hitting a pop can.
  • Trains do not always run on schedule. They can run at any time, on any track and come from either direction.
  • Tunnels, bridges, and trestles are designed only for trains. Taking a shortcut across the tracks or being on railway property is illegal, and trespassers can be seriously injured or killed.
  • Stopped railway cars can move at any time. If you’re on one or near one when it moves, you could lose a limb — or worse, your life.
  • Trains can carry loads that are wider than the railroad cars themselves. They can have chains, straps or other equipment that may extend outside the car. If you are standing too close, you could get hit.

Teen driver safety and Vision Zero

No deaths are acceptable on our roads. Strategies and policies that have proven to be effective prevention against distracted driving include technology, enforcement, engineering and engagement. Efforts such as NTDSW seek to advocate and educate in support of these evidence-based approaches.