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Program for new and young drivers rolls out this fall

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A new program aimed at preventing distracted and impaired driving will be rolling out in Grande Prairie this fall. The New and Young Driver Road Ready Program will be offered to grade 11 and 12 students at Safety City.

Thanks to a $17,000 grant from Alberta Transportation, they’ll be buying mini golf carts and goggles that will simulate distraction and impairment as the teens try to get around the track. Grande Prairie and Area Safe Communities Executive Director Carla Boyne says their goal is prevent injuries and save lives.

“I hope they learn that their choices affect themselves and others. We have a portion at the end that going to talk about both legal consequences and medical consequences, so we do hope that ultimately, there’s zero accidents; we would like the numbers to be reduced in our community.”

Grande Prairie & Area Safe Communities program coordinator Cindy Blinston says youth between the ages of 15 and 25 are the most vulnerable people on the road, and are involved in more crashes than any other age group. She adds that most of those collisions are linked to distraction or impairment.

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“If we can show our young drivers valid evidence based reasons to turn off the cell phone, or call for a ride if they have consumed alcohol or drugs, they will be more likely to choose a safer option.”

A group of teens and new drivers from the Cultural Integration Academy got to try out the interactive program this week, and it will be adjusted over the summer before classes of students get involved. Once all of the equipment is in hand, it’s hoped it will continue for several years.

“If we do have more support for this program we could possibly get more staff to be able to offer the program more regularly as well and maybe even on weekends too to more of a public program opportunity,” says Boyne.

Anyone interested in getting a young person they know involved in the program, Boyne encourages them to reach out to their school and ask to get their class signed up.

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